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KEEP THE CANDLE BURNING
24 Reflections from Our Favorite Songs
By Denise Jones
Copyright © 2003
Denise Jones, Terry Jones, Heather Payne, and Shelley Breen
All right reserved.
I'll Be Believing
A friend shared this story with me and assured me that it actually happened. I'm
told a pastor was sitting in his home office preparing for the Sunday service.
His backyard, an oversized lot with tall trees, provided an inspiring view as he
worked. This particular afternoon, he happened to spot a kitten who had climbed
up a thin maple. For several minutes, the kitten cried out, unable to make her
way down to safety.
Maybe the pastor had decided he needed a sermon illustration. Maybe he got tired
of the kitten's cry. Whatever his motivation, he put aside his studies, went to
the kitchen, fetched a bowl of milk, and then attempted to coax the kitty down.
He tried cooing, "Here, kitty-kitty." He even tried words of encouragement.
Nothing worked. The poor, frightened creature clung to a scrawny branch for dear
With his hands on his hips, the pastor sized up the situation. The tree, he
noted, was less than three inches thick. There was just no way he could heave
himself up to rescue the cat. What about a ladder? After a minute, he figured it
was too risky to lean a ladder against the spindly tree.
Frustrated at the time he was wasting on this interruption, he was tempted to
give up. It was then that a sudden blast of inspiration hit him. What if he bent
the tree downward? He could easily reach up and get the kitten.
But how would he bend it?
The pastor decided to tie an old rope to the tree and then attach the other end
to the bumper of his car. I'm serious. He thought that by pulling the car slowly
forward he would gently ease the maple into position for a quick rescue. Within
minutes, everything was set. The car. The rope. The tree. The frightened kitten.
He slipped behind the steering wheel of his car and pulled forward several feet.
He walked back and checked the distance. The cat was still too far to reach. He
nudged the car forward again. Same results. He also noticed how taut the rope
had become and was unsure whether or not to take another chance. But he had come
this far, so what choice did he have? This time, he inched forward and you can
probably guess what happened.
The rope snapped.
The tree jolted upright.
And kitty sailed through the air, landing out of sight.
Stunned, the pastor prayed, "Lord, I tried. I now commit that kitten into your
keeping." Before heading back to his study to finish the sermon preparation, he
knocked on several neighbors' doors. Had they seen a little lost kitty? No. It
was as if the cat had evaporated into thin air.
Several days later, the pastor bumped into a member from his congregation, a
woman who lived nearby. As they talked, he glanced at the items in her shopping
cart and was shocked to see a bag of cat food. He was surprised because her
dislike of cats was almost legendary. Curiosity got the better of him, so he
asked what she was doing buying cat food.
She said, "Pastor, you won't believe this. My little girl has been begging me
almost every day for a cat. Well, I can't stand the little creatures, as you
know, so I told her, 'If God gives you a cat, you can keep it.'"
The pastor had an idea of where this was going.
Maybe you do, too.
The woman said, "My girl is a little powerhouse of faith. She just kept
believing God would provide. You know what she did? She marched outside, got
down on her knees and prayed to Jesus for a cat. You're not going to believe
this. I saw it with my own eyes. A little tan and white kitten came flying out
of the clear blue sky with its tiny paws outspread, landing at my daughter's
Unbelievable? Like I said, I'm told it's a true story. Even if my friend were
mistaken, it's a picture of how God works. Time after time he demonstrates he's
not so distracted by the affairs of the universe that he is unable to hear the
petitions of a child. What a fun example of how he sometimes chooses to answer
our prayers in the most unusual ways.
I like what King David said in Psalm 37:4: "Delight yourself in the Lord and he
will give you the desires of your heart." This little girl, knowing full well
how much her mother opposed pets, patiently believed God would overcome the
odds. She in her own way delighted in the Lord and his provision. He, in turn,
came through with, um, flying colors.
Listen to this amazing promise in Deuteronomy 31:8: "The Lord himself goes
before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not
be afraid; do not be discouraged."
Let that sink in. As the song says, "Out here on my own, I won't be alone." Why?
Because the God of the heavens promises to never, ever leave us. He hears our
prayers. He is not distracted. If anything, he is waiting for you and me with
open arms to call on his name.
Has life thrown you a curve? Does it feel as if the bottom has dropped out? Do
you find yourself struggling with loneliness? Discouragement? Despair? Then take
heart. Keep believing, keep trusting, keep waiting on the one who loves to
delight us with good things-when we make him the delight of our hearts.
And who knows? He may answer your prayers with something that lands in your lap
out of the blue.
In Psalm 37:4, King David reveals how we, like that little girl in the story,
can experience the desires of our heart. What was his secret? What are the
obstacles in your life that might prevent you from fully embracing David's
Excerpted from KEEP THE CANDLE BURNING
by Denise Jones
Copyright © 2003 by Denise Jones, Terry Jones, Heather Payne, and Shelley Breen.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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