Finding Courage and Strength
The late night ringing of the phone startled me from a deep sleep. Phone calls from my daughters, both away at college, were welcome any time of the day or night, but the trembling voice of our younger daughter, Joanne, caused a special “Mom Alarm” to sound inside of me.
“Mom,” I sat upright in bed. The beating of my heart sent pulsing sensations to my head. “I think I might fail microbiology.”
It was still early in the semester and no official grades had been recorded. Yet, this was not a message the tuition-paying mother of a nursing major wanted to receive. How could that be? How could a student who had always done well in school be failing a course?
Sensing there was a crisis, my husband rushed to pick up another phone. Then, after a long and what I hoped was a reassuring conversation, Joanne promised to talk to her professor and try to discover how she could turn things around in microbiology.
After placing the phone on its cradle, I fluffed my pillow and rested my head on it for the second time that night. In only a few hours I would face five groups of middle school students in reading classes and then end the day with a homeroom study hall. I needed to be rested in order to give those students my best. But, even though I knew that Psalm 121 tells us our Heavenly Father neither slumbers nor sleeps the implication, of course, being that he will take care of things while we sleep anxiety would not permit me to close my eyes.
As the brightly-lit digital clock on the night stand exchanged the numerals “one, five, nine” for “two, zero, zero”. I slid out of bed and went into the family room where I looked through the window to the back yard. The big oaks silhouetted in the moonlight appeared to stand watch over our little home. I wondered if these strong and unbending giants were a symbol of God’s watchful care over me in this time of distress?
While standing there in the darkness, I prayed and asked God for His strength for me, and that He would solve Joanne’s problem with her class and to keep her safe. But while my emotions formed the words, my head told me that, even though God loved her and cared about all of her needs, Joanne needed to find the courage and strength to fix this problem herself.
Tired and with an aching head, I made the decision to write a note to Joanne. The note I penned in the wee hours of that morning was the typical, reassuring kind of note a mother writes to a hurting daughter. But, at the end of that note, I added, “Between 5:15 and 5:30 each morning, I will be praying for you. That will be your special time.”
My morning started fifteen minutes earlier each day as I kept my commitment to Joanne’s special time. Quick phone calls on the evenings we could catch Joanne in her dorm room served as encouragement to her dad and me. In good spirits, she talked about her activities and her friends. But nothing was shared about her grades in microbiology.
In early spring I was invited to Joanne’s college campus for a special mothers’ weekend. We met at a designated place on campus and then I went to her dorm. Upon entering her room, I immediately spotted a familiar note posted on her bulletin board. And I learned that micro was “going great”. How special it was for me to discover that my frightened young daughter had been relying on my prayers and resting in the knowledge that God would give her the courage to pursue and master a difficult task.
Many years have elapsed since that late night call, and during that period of time I have observed Joanne’s life as she places her faith in God and relies on prayer for courage and strength to pursue her goals and dreams, and to triumph over hard circumstances in her life. I have celebrated with her when her goals and dreams were realized, and my heart has ached as I cried out to God for understanding when she suffered through surgeries and chemotherapy in her valiant fight against cancer. But I often remember that long ago appeal for support and I recognize it was a significant point in Joanne’s journey of faith, and the beginning of a consistent journey in prayer for me.
Verla Lacy Powers ©
Verla Lacy Powers ©