And what about the timing? You somehow picked up just the right book or article at just the right time, in just the right place. And you wonder . . . Where would I be if I hadn't read this?
At just the right time, one story breathed courage into my spirit. One story offered hope beyond the present unknowns. One story served as a grab bar when panic and despair threatened to steal away any strength I had left. Strength I needed to navigate the uninvited trauma that invaded our lives.
Page after page, I read Gracia Burnham's book, In the Presence of My Enemies. A halo--screwed into my skull to stabilize my broken neck--kept my head from moving, forcing me to face straight ahead. Compelled to use a hard-backed chair, I sat with my elbows on the dining room table, holding the book at eye level to see the pages . . . hungry for a word from God . . . searching for a hint of grace.
Gracia Burnham's memoir does not offer soothing verse or warm, wonderful stories. Her account reveals the horrors experienced by two American Missionaries taken captive in the Philippines. For over a year they and several other hostages were forced to traipse from place to place in the jungle, barely surviving oppression from their captors and the elements. In the end, Gracia's husband was shot and killed.
Somewhere between the lines, I discovered a rare kind of strength. I witnessed a faithful God whose awareness and care for His children make a difference in the very worst of times. There at my dining room table, I determined that if Gracia could trust God in a most horrendous chapter of her life story, I could trust Him with this fearful and uncertain chapter of my own.
The power of her story made all the difference for me then - and continues to inspire me to this day. The right story at the right time . . .
So, what stories have made a significant contribution for you?
*Excerpts from the Introduction of Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story, to be released September 26, available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle Editions.
Saturday Afternoon, November 5th, 2016
Duffy's Coffee House, 306 South State Street, Clarks Summit, PA 18411