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OCTOBER 2004
ISSUE HOMEPAGE

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A Lesson From The Mighty Oak
By Pat Sheets

One of the simple joys in my life is sitting on my patio in the early morning with a hot cup of coffee, talking with God and admiring the wonder of daybreak. Itís as if God is sitting there with me, also sipping a cup of coffee, as we discuss the day before me. I take advantage of this "patio prayer time" as often as possible and it is always special, but when the seasons are about to change, the experience takes on a whole new dimension.

As I stepped onto my patio this morning, the usual excitement and zeal of my special time with God was absent. It had been replaced by confusion, worry, and sorrow. My daughter and son-in-law are on the brink of separation after only two years of marriage. They are both Christians, so why is this happening? My daughter says they have both changed and can no longer make the marriage work, not even for the sake of their one-year-old son.

My husband and I are devastated. We want our daughter to build the kind of loving relationship we have enjoyed for thirty years. As I came before God this morning, I prayed that He would show me how to help her. I prayed that He would allow me to take care of her troubles, just as I did when she was a little girl.

A whisper of wind, with just a faint hint of autumn, engulfed me as I prayed and I opened my eyes to see a single leaf falling from the top of an old oak tree. The leaf swayed slowly to the ground as if being gently lowered by an invisible hand. Finally, the leaf came to rest on the ground beneath the tree.

The mighty oak tree produced, nurtured and proudly displayed the leaf for a season. When the seasons changed, however, the oak could no longer protect its leaf. It had to let go and depend on the gentle hand of God to buffer the fall.

God restored my faith and answered my prayer with the first leaf of autumn. He reminded me that just as the seasons change, so does our role as parents. I can no longer protect my child from lifeís harm. Instead, I must remain strong in the knowledge that Godís hand is beneath her to break the fall.

I will continue to pray for my daughter and her marriage, but I have resolved to put her future in the hands of God. I know it will be difficult, but if God protects the leaf of a mighty oak, He will surely protect my daughter, His child.
Pat Sheets is a freelance writer with an offbeat sense of humor. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with the three men in her life: Jack, her husband, is a pastor. Duncan and Barkley are pound-saved mutts but none-the-less, her "boys".
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Photography by Stephanie Summerfield.