The cold of late October nipped our faces as we walked along the nearly deserted back road. The yellow gray ditches and somber gray sky added no warmth to our surroundings and we drew our coats tighter round us to ward off the chill. I glanced into the young face beside me and saw there the same ache I heard in her voice. Her blue eyes were shiny with tears and my own heart ached with an intense longing to somehow ease her distress.
"I'm so uncertain. I just don't know what to do..." Her voice trailed off as she tried to explain the drama of feelings that were unfolding within her. In the last few months her world had been turned upside down. Her Dad had been torn from her.
"I miss my sheep." To some it may have seemed like an odd thing to say at this moment. But I knew her well. And somehow more than the familiarity of the animals she had loved and raised from girlhood, I sensed a deeper cry. Not so much the cry of a sheeperdess missing the sheep she had sold, but the cry of a little lamb that feels lost from the Shepherd. The Shepherd of her family flock was gone. And in the darkness she was reaching out, crying, searching for the face of the Heavenly Shepherd she had committed her life to follow. And somehow in the darkness, the stumbling thorn strewn pathway by this precipice seemed dubiously uncertain. She felt a need like never before to hear His gentle voice, and to feel His carrying arms. But in the raging storm of emotions, change, and grief, she felt bereft.
"I want to buy brown wool to make something warm for my brother." she added. "But I don't know if I should really be spending the money right now." Again the deep uncertainty that spoke of so much more than surface story. The deep longing that crops up in all of us for the familiar, for something warm and safe to wrap our hurting hearts in. The tangible ability to untangle something tangled, when the threads of our own lives are tangled beyond our recognition.
She had been talking of getting a spinning wheel. Working in wool was not a new interest. But now despite her busy schedule with a heavy load of college classes she was longing more than ever for the familiar, for the comfort of at least some dream come true to give her hope to go on.
Looking at her in the midst of her sorting her thoughts, both about her wants and about the spiritual battle that raged in and around her, I felt I needed to remind her of the truth it is so easy to lose sight of when life hurts most. "Don't forget. God loves you. And He loves to see you smile." I had encouraged her to surrender her dreams and desires to Him. "He delights to give us the desires of our hearts. But don't forget, it is when our wills are aligned with His that we can truly delight in Him." But more importantly than anything right now she needed to remember her Shepherd's tender love.
As we walked on we prayed together, bringing her needs to Him, her confusion, her desires. and her wants and needs. I prayed He'd show her that love.
In the weeks following I wondered if I should try and find a spinning wheel for her myself. She had a birthday coming up. But I knew it was rather beyond my own budget. So instead I prayed. "Lord, you know how much this would mean to her right now. Would You be willing to give her one?"
It wasn't more than a month later that I got the email. "I have just been given a spinning wheel." I could have laughed out loud for joy. The next day she came to visit. As we stood in my Kitchen doing dishes together, she bubbled over with the whole story. "And it even came with a gift tag with my name on it." she enthused, a special shine in her blue eyes.
"Really?" I looked at her curiously. Trying to follow her train of thought.
"You remember the brown yarn I wanted? Well, after God told me not to buy a spinning wheel I prayed that if he gave me a spinning wheel he'd give me three pounds of brown wool for that gift for my brother. When I went to get the spinning wheel the lady took me back into her craft room and started shoving things into my arms to take with. At the last she pulled down a bag and asked. 'Do you like to clean wool?' I told her I did thinking maybe I could clean it for her as a bit of payment for her huge gift to me. But she told me it was for me to take and keep. And when I opened the bag inside was approximately three pounds of brown wool. It was as if God was going above and beyond and saying, 'This is for you from me with love.'"
I grinned at her and quipped. "Remember? I told you God loved to see you smile." And I could see in her return smile that her confidence in His love was being renewed. Because God in His great love had sent her not only the fulfillment of her dreams, but also a very personal love note in brown.