Did You Hear Today's Cattle Report?
It was twenty-three years ago this month that Rich and I started watching the cattle report.
I was attending a weekly women's bible study that summer and had shared with the group in July about a mole on Rich's leg. I had nagged and nagged him to go to a doctor to have it removed and checked for cancer. I had made multiple appointments for him. For most of spring he had refused to take the time off work to go and had cancelled the appointments. The women agreed to pray with me that Rich would make an appointment and have the mole looked at. Within a few days of our prayers, Rich made an appointment and had the mole removed. That answer to prayer was a lesson for me on how God can work when I step out of the way.
Rich was diagnosed with melanoma.
He was rushed into surgery early August to have a wide excision of his thigh. They grafted new skin from his other thigh and confined him to a wheelchair for a month until everything healed. Wheelchair bound carpenters do not work. I was seven months pregnant with our second child and a stay at home mom caring for our three year old daughter. My attempts at finding a job to replace Rich's lost wages failed. We had faced some periods of unemployment previously and dealt with some medical issues for our daughter, but having both a medical crises and unemployment at the same time was new to us. I remember kneeling by Rich's wheelchair as we prayed for some solution for our monthly expenses.
God answered our prayer. Someone left a large sum of money on the front seat of my car while I was attending the bible study one August morning. When I arrived home I asked Rich if he had heard the morning's cattle report. He looked at me questioningly. We were not stock market followers. "Well, you know that God owns a cattle on a thousand hills, right?" I started, referring to Psalm 50. "He killed one today. For us." I put the cash in Rich's lap. We cried harder at that moment than we had about his cancer.
Situations that pull us to the very end of our own resources require us to rely on God more fully. We learned that through Rich's cancer. There have been other moments like the August of '92 that God's love for us and faithfulness to care and provide for our needs have boarded on miraculous. Nathaniel initial evaluation trip to Cincinnati next week will be added to our life journal as one of them.
If you had asked us Thursday how we were paying for our trip to Cincinnati, we would not have had an answer. Well, we had a partial answer. We knew what to expect with Nathaniel's insurance benefits for the medical costs. We learned about a month ago that some friends had reserved our hotel room and generously offered to pick up the bill at the end of the week. The fact that God provided in these ways encouraged us to keep kneeling and keep asking for His provision for our other expenses. Rich's lost wages. Travel costs. The meals we will need to eat out. The extra hand sanitizer and bottles of adult and children's Tylenol that every extended hospital experience requires. The small things add up.
There was a temptation most of the summer to cancel our family's July vacation to northern Ohio, and save the money in case Nathaniel's trip to Cincinnati was scheduled. After much prayer, we decided we could not ask that of our other children. They have sacrificed much in the two years since we adopted Nathaniel. They have given up time with their parents, bedrooms, our family vacation last year, and even their own sleep so that we can meet Nathaniel's needs. Four of our adult children had requested vacation time from their jobs for the Lakeside trip. We could not cancel on them. Instead, Rich and I leaned harder on God's promise that He sees and knows our needs. It was not a pretty leaning. But a fretful, at times tear filled, second guessing ourselves and God sort of leaning. How foolish it seemed, even to us, to agree to and plan the Cincinnati trip when we did not have the full resources. But we kept coming back to foundational truths we read in God's word and have staked our lives on: God promises to provide for the orphan, the weak, the sick. He is never late. He is trustworthy.
In the last twenty-four hours, multiple cash gifts have been brought to our front door. The expenses of Nathaniel's trip to Cincinnati have been met. We are humbled that God counts us worthy to be trusted with so much. Since it came through the hands and hard work of many different people, we are equally humbled at their following God's leading to give, at their trust in us, and their love and care for Nathaniel and our family. We are in awe of a God who shows up, who is not late, who keeps His promises. We leave tomorrow reminded again that God truly does own the cattle on a thousand hills. Today, he offered a few for Nathaniel.
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
The wealth in every mine;
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
The sun and stars that shine.
Wonderful riches, more than tongue can tell -
He is my Father so they're mine as well;
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills -
I know that He will care for me.
Hymn by John W Peterson