By: Tammy Berkman
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21 NIV
In 1972, my husband and I married and moved to our first home in Conroe, Texas. There he worked as a JV basketball coach, while I taught 9th grade Physical Science. With no children, we had a Labrador named "Lady" and a Cocker Spaniel named "Dudley." But just four years later, 1976, my husband became Head BB Coach at Conroe High, and our first was born, a little girl named Lane.
Since my husband was an "only child" his momma and daddy adored Lane. Once old enough to talk, Lane called them "Poppy" and "Memaw," and our family loved them. Suddenly, when Lane was just 4, Memaw got sick unexpectedly and died at the age of 58. Then, shortly thereafter, at age 63, Poppy got cancer and had a heart attack. He was placed in a hospital in Victoria, far away from where we called home. He was so very weak that he couldn't even walk and was entirely incapable of caring for himself. With Memaw gone, we questioned bringing Poppy home to live with us. My mom understood the great responsibility this would be for me and cautioned me to not take on such a big task with a small child, a husband, and a career.
I struggled over this decision, as my heart and the advice didn't align. One night, I went on a walk. While I was walking, I was talking to God, telling Him I wanted to take care of Poppy and shared the conflicting input blurring my thoughts. Mom was simply trying to protect me from getting into a situation bigger than I could manage. What if she was right? But while I was walking and praying, I sensed God speaking to my thoughts, telling me to go get Poppy. I argued with God. "God, if I stay home to take care of Poppy, I might lose my teaching job. My marriage m ay flounder. I may not have time for Lane. Maybe Mom was right to ask me to really consider how long this caretaking might last. And, You want me to do it anyway?"
No matter which way I turned the conversation, God kept telling me the same thing. Isaiah 30:21 says, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" I finally decided to trust God and let Him order my steps. We brought Poppy home to live with us. Once I trusted God and did what He said, He provided everything we needed. Amazingly, my school principal let me stay home and send recorded lessons every day to my class. He even hired a substitute teacher to play my recorded lessons for the students and gave me full pay no matter how long I had to stay home.
At first, we gave Poppy his own bedroom. But it was depressing to stay in a bedroom, so we moved his hospital bed and oxygen tanks to the middle of the living room so he could be at the center of everything. Poppy lived with us several months before he died. Those times became some of my most cherished memories. I'm so glad I heard God's voice behind me that night when I was on that walk. "Whether you turn to the left of the right, you shall hear a voice behind you, saying, this is the way - walk in it." Isaiah 30:31
Lord, thank you for never forsaking us at the fork of indecision. Thank you for speaking to us even in a still, small voice. Give us strength to turn the way we should walk in.
Oh, how we love You. Amen.