Blessings In Disguise
One of the major pitfalls about living in Maine is the very short summer. Adding to this seasonal drawback is the fact that you spend the majority of the nice summer days preparing for the numerous harsh days of winter. Along with house repairs resulting from the damage from the previous winter, you must also get ready for the next long winter. However, every once in a while you just have to make time and force yourself to enjoy one of those nice days of summer in spite of what the approaching winter has planned for you.
On one exceptionally warm Sunday in July, my family decided that we were going to spend the day at Sandy Bottom Pond. Since the pond is a long distance from the church where I pastor, this was the first time we visited the popular summer spot. After church services we would take time off from our hectic schedule and just enjoy an afternoon of relaxation and playing in the water.
Following my closing remarks to members of the congregation, our family left church for our day of fun. As my wife, Methyl and daughter, Kelly changed into their swimsuits, I discovered that I had made a terrible mistake. I forgot my swimsuit at home. We brought our towels, sunscreen, beach toys, lawn chairs, snacks, sunglasses, sandals, but I forgot my swimsuit. I could have returned home to get my missing swimsuit, but by the time I returned it would have been time to leave. What was I going to do?
In an effort to minimize my embarrassment, I asked Methyl, "I thought you said we had everything we needed for today's swim?" It was a feeble attempt to save my bruised ego.
"I apologize for leaving YOUR swimsuit at home," was her immediate response. "I thought that since they were YOUR trunks, YOU would remember to bring them." I guess I had that coming to me.
So while Methyl and Kelly enjoyed their afternoon in the refreshing water of Sandy Bottom Pond, I was relegated to sitting on the shore watching everyone else have a good time. To make matters worse, I had to sit on the shore in my church clothes. How was I going to occupy myself for the next three hours? That is when the preacher in me decided to take my problem to a higher power.
"Lord, I know that there's a reason I forgot my swimsuit. Please show me the lesson You are trying to teach me as a result of my forgetful human nature." When in doubt, pray.
Shortly after my prayer, a family sat next to me on the beach. They placed their daughter, a young teenager about 15, into the shallow end of the water along the beach. The girl had cerebral palsy. Her body movements were extremely limited, but she was having a wonderful time just sitting in the water and playing by herself as her parents went into the deeper part of the pond. I couldn't help but notice the thrill this child was having just enjoying the moment. She saw me watching her and gave me a big smile knowing that she was the source of my entertainment as I sat on the shore.
After about 30 minutes of play, a dragonfly began flying around the girl's face. Because of her cerebral palsy she was unable to discourage the insect into leaving her alone. In an effort to escape the pest, she started pushing herself into deeper water. Using her arms as braces, the girl was able to keep her head above the water. But no matter what she did, the dragonfly continued to bother the girl.
Suddenly, the girl's arms buckled and she went face-down into the water. It was obvious from her lack of movement that she was unable to bring her head out of the water. I looked around and nobody saw what happened, so nobody could go to her rescue. That's when I ran into the water, church clothes and all, and pulled the girl to the beach.
The girl's parents were embarrassed for not seeing what had happened, but everyone agreed it was a good thing I was on the shore watching her at the time. I saved a handicapped child from drowning.
It was then that I understood why I had forgotten my swimsuit. God needed me to be watching that girl and sitting on the shore at that exact moment in time. If I had been swimming with my family, instead of saving a girl from certain death, I would have been trying to console her grieving parents.
Now I have a better understanding of why things happen when they happen. It is all part of a Divine Greater Good. Knowing that God used me for a special purpose on that hot summer day was very humbling. So now when I forget something, or things don't turn out as I had planned, I just ask, "Lord, what are You getting me into this time?"
Copyright © 2010 Rev. Raymond C. Nolan
Rev. Raymond C. Nolan has served as a minister for over 30 years and is presently the Assistant Pastor at Daybreak United Methodist Church in Miflin, Alabama. His positive outlook on life serves as an inspiration to all who know him.
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Read some of Ray's other writings too:
Missing The Obvious
We're Never Too Old To Teach
Out Of The Mouths Of Babes
Does God Have A Sense Of Humor?
Becoming Too Available
Bernie and Me
The Birthday Cake Rematch
Rank Does Have Its Privileges