“Who is this baby table intended to serve, Lord? I put it here because I didn’t have anywhere to store it, but there’s probably someone whose little mother could use it, isn’t there?” As I voiced my questions, I played with the baby clothing now filling the compartments of the changing table. “Well, even if I’d been wrong to buy these things when I bought the boys’ beds, someone, somewhere, out there will need it eventually. Just show me who, Lord.”
The weeks turned into months, as I anticipated receiving two little boys who needed a home. Martha* still had no definite timetable as she waited for court-related documents to be signed. The hospital administrator’s duties filled my days, but I kept an ear out for the call that would bring the boys to fill those beds.
“Got a minute? I want to tell you about a rental that’s just now available,” my friend said. “There’s lots more room in the house and the yard. Plus, it’s cheaper than where you are now.”
The house came partly-furnished, but I’d need a refrigerator, as well as a washer/dryer to help care for the boys. I loved that it had an upright piano, and a large, round wooden dining table with chairs.
The big, old house had character. It also had a coal-burning furnace in the basement. Hmm? That’d be a new experience for me.
Almost before I knew what was happening, all of my things resided in the new, old house. I put the changing table back in the boys’ room, and the crib had been re-assembled in my bedroom once again. I just hoped I’d find the new owner of the baby things before the boys arrived.
As the months passed since that first meeting of foster parents willing to adopt, I began to entertain anxious thoughts. Had the Lord really been prompting me to prepare for kids to live in my home? Would the two little boys for whom I’d been preparing really come? Had I totally missed God’s direction, now completely off-track from that on which I should be focusing?
“I’ve decided I need to find out, Carroll,” I said over a tall glass of her sun tea. “I’m going to spend three days fasting and praying at the lake. Maybe then I’ll hear from God about this kids’ thing.”
“That’s a good idea. I’m excited for you; what better place to hear from God than out at the lake!” Carroll’s secretarial skills helped me out when I needed additional office assistance, but even more, she served as a close friend and sister-in-the-Lord. “You be sure to let me know what the Lord tells you! I can hardly wait for the weekend to end!”
“I will. I’ll drive out tomorrow morning and be back on Sunday evening. Pray for me, please?”
Laughing, Carroll said, “Oh, you know I will! So, will you just toss your sleeping bag on the ground—“
“Actually, I have a pup tent. I’ll use that. Nahum and I will occupy the pup tent made for two.”
“Uh-huh, that should be interesting.”
Both of us chuckled at the image of my newly-acquired, adult-sized long-haired, Husky-Griffon mix squeezed in next to me in a pup tent.
Nahum came to live with me when dear friends on the other side of the State moved to a home that didn’t allow dogs. I’d just moved to the new location when Dana and Doug made Nahum’s need for a home known. Perfect timing; I’d not have been able to have a dog in the duplex.
Nahum’s slender, regal stature came from the Griffon, the long white hair from the Husky, but the gentle character of this loving dog made him a perfect pet for people of all ages. I loved Nahum to bits, but I did have some doubt about how he’d fare inside the closed space.
Nahum curled himself into a tight ball of fur, managing not to notice the rugged terrain as I drove the two of us out to the lake. Had I not heard the occasional changes in breathing, I’d not have remembered he slept in the footwell of the passenger seat next to me. The dog awoke only when I turned off the ignition and opened my car door. Nahum bounded out like a coil released from a spring-lock. Oh, if only I had the agility of that critter.
I set up our little camp, leaving the cooler with cold water inside the car. Nahum hung around, watching me with curiosity in those doggy-eyes. “I know, Nahum. Why bother wasting time setting this up now; the water and beach await? I’ll be with you in a minute, but feel free to explore on your own.”
No deal; he slumped to the ground with his head on his outstretched paws. Can dogs groan? Nahum wordlessly issued his opinion of my sluggish setting up ability.
Finally, I straightened up and rubbed my hands together to get rid of the clinging dirt. Nahum barked, swung his head towards the shoreline, and took what looked like a hop forward. “Okay, I get it! Let’s go!”
My dog and I walked up and down the shoreline; he barked while I prayed out loud. Hmm? Maybe he had his own way to pray? In any case, we spent an hour enjoying the solitude and praising God at the top of our lungs.
When Nahum slipped over for a nap in the shade of the tent, I grabbed my Bible, notebook, and pen. I relished the serenity of the beautiful location.
For the next couple of hours, I studied the Word, and Nahum alternated between napping, edging over to the lake to check the temperature of the water and returning to sit at my side. When I felt the weight of the patient dog’s snout on my knee, I reached down to scratch his head.
“Beautiful but boring for a dog, huh? How about we play toss-the-stick?” Of course, I’d have to find a stick, but Nahum’s barking let me know he understood what I’d asked him.
The two of us played hard for about forty-five minutes. Then, Nahum lapped the lake water and found another bit of shade. Time for another doggy nap, freeing me to return to my study.
I’d packed my guitar so I could sing; Nahum loved to make it a duet. Good thing it was a secluded spot.
Shortly before sunset, a camper truck interrupted our quiet. A sedan followed. The evening silence dissolved into raucous laughter as the fishermen and their ladies livened up the spot about twenty yards away.
When I heard the popping tops of beer cans, I asked the Lord to protect Nahum and me from any drunken wanderings. I also asked God to keep Nahum calm as the gentle giant could put out the defender’s growl when engaged in that role. I feared the men would hurt him, more than the reverse.
“Okay, God, You know I came out here to hear from You. If You’ve allowed these folks to camp this close to us, You have Your reasons. I choose to focus on You and not to be distracted by the surroundings. Help me, and thanks for protecting us.”
Nahum refused to sleep in the tent with me. I didn’t mind as the two-person pup tent must have been made to sleep two mini-people or one full-grown adult. The fishermen’s party filled the night for hours after I crawled into my sleeping bag.
After a fitful rest, I awoke to find a gorgeous sunrise just outside the tent. I began to walk and pray, knowing Nahum would stay asleep by the tent for another hour. Strolling the length of the shoreline, I sang quietly between my pleading prayers and ebullient bursts of praise.
I knew God had given me this special day, and I rejoiced in it. I had no idea the profound lesson the Lord had planned for me; taught by the very people I’d seen as intruders in my personal retreat.