Over the River and Through the Woods


I fell face down in my father’s furrowed soybean field again.  It was Thanksgiving Eve 1990 something.  Navigating the trenches of dirt on this moonless night, proved to be about as tricky as body surfing blindfolded.  Covered in mud and harvest remnants I cried out in despair, “God, help us find her!”

Our seven month old Shiba Inu puppy, Kobi, slipped her collar outside my parent’s backdoor minutes earlier.  Seeing a rabbit, the little hunter leaped into the field behind their home, disappearing into the darkness.  Appalled, Ken and I darted after her.

The daunting task of finding a lost pup in vast acres of farmland and woods on a cloudy night, chilled my soul.  Our daughter Jennifer prayed and saved her money for a year and a half to buy her very own dog.  Shiba’s are a high energy, adventuresome breed.  They should never be off leash our out of a fenced yard.  Her answer to prayer was now running loose somewhere in acres of woods and farmlands that stretched for miles.

On a different piece of the property from me, Ken cried out to God also.  Covered in brambles from a fence row he fell over, he looked up just as the moon momentarily peeked through the clouds. Kobi sat peacefully, in a clearing in the woods, centered in a shaft of moonlight.  Completely out of character, she remained motionless as if held by unseen hands.

After securing her on her leash, Ken scooped her up in his arms joyously running towards home, right into another fence row, this one made of barbed wired.  Shocked and tangled into the biting knots of the fence, he almost dropped the pup who surely would have run away in fright from all the thrashing and commotion.  Once again, unseen hands intervened, propelled him out of the fence, dog intact, and back onto his feet.

We know that God moved supernaturally for us that night.  Our Thanksgiving could have been a wreck of trying to find Kobi and possibly returning to our own home without her.  He cared for that little critter and assigned an angel to hold her still. He lifted Ken out of the barbed wire; it’s that simple in our minds.

On another holiday, Christmas day to be precise, God did not intervene for a family pet.  We were enjoying a wonderful day with Ken’s parents and siblings when tragedy struck.  While Dad was out walking Hooter, he and mom’s beloved little Bichon Frise, the small, white dog ran into the snowy street into the path of an oncoming car.

I will never forget Dad Stults coming through the doorway of the living room, face twisted with grief, holding Hooter’s lifeless body.  We all cried.  The rest of the day became swallowed up by sorrow.  The ugliness and cruelty of this world witnessed on Hooter’s bloody form stays with me, although this happened over 35 years ago.  Why didn’t God move Hooter or slow the car down or something?

As dearly as we love animals, it’s far more difficult to wrestle with questions about God’s sovereign care when it involved humans we love.  Why did my mother survive horrific heart surgery only to die suddenly of pneumonia?  Why is one friend miraculously healed of cancer while another succumbs?

When these things happen we just can’t make sense of them, because we can’t see as God sees.  We can’t know all that He knows.  In the words of a song from a David Clydesdale musical I directed many years ago, “When you don’t understand, when you don’t see a plan, when you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.”

God’s grace is for you today.  His love and favor surround you like a shield especially when grief and sorrow threaten to shipwreck your soul.  God knows the pain you feel while all around others are celebrating the joy of the season.  His hand is still good towards you.  He will carry you through dark times.   He is with you.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”  Matthew 1: 23 (NLT)








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