“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4
Looking at the letters above, you may be thinking that I have one of my precious little ones slapping at the computer keyboard as I write. It would certainly appear that might be the case if you didn’t look a bit closer. What you see at the top of the page is a backward alphabet.
Back in the dark ages, we didn’t have kindergarten classes, and all children in my county began their school career as a first grader. One of the basics we were taught was of learning the alphabet. After my classmates and I were successful in this endeavor, our teacher, Miss Pratt, invited the class to go a step beyond the norm. She challenged us to learn the alphabet backward if we wanted to do so. I don’t know why, but I accepted Miss Pratt’s challenge.
When all was said and done, only I and one other girl in our class accomplished the feat. For our reward, Miss Pratt gave each of us eleven cents. Believe it or not, it was enough to buy a Zero candy bar at the school store. I was so excited!
Perhaps Miss Pratt only had twenty-two cents that day. I really don’t know, but I have always remembered how proud I was to be able to recite the alphabet backward. To this day, I can still do it correctly. Yes, friends, the mind is a strange and marvelous thing!
There are several ways I thought of weaving this little story into a pertinent life application. I could talk about what a wonderful teacher Miss Pratt was. I could share how I stood at her bedside in a nursing home many years later, thanked her for her kindness, and for setting a good educational foundation for so many children back in East Texas. When I mentioned still being able to recite the alphabet backward, Miss Pratt gave me a warm smile. A stroke had left her unable to speak, but her loving smile clearly signaled that she understood my words.
I could talk about my years working at an elementary school where I sometimes entertained children with my long-held “skill”. I really thought I was doing well until a kindergartner and his mom were sitting at my desk one day. The mother, surely not knowing how gifted I was in the area of backward alphabet recitation, told her little son to show Mrs. Canizales what he could do. Low and behold, that child began reciting the alphabet backward. And he did great! I had been beaten at my own game!!
Today, however, I was thinking about how these seemingly jumbled letters sometimes resemble our struggles at various junctures in life. If we are not careful, our minds are easily distracted from the really important things. Maybe there’s a decision someone needs to make, but there seems to be no clarity on what is in their best interest. Others perhaps have stressful situations which hamper their ability to live life to the fullest. Some may be stuck in the past with seemingly no way to move forward. Consequently, they have lost their joy and peace, if they ever had it in the first place. I can think of many examples where we humans can be left with minds that are jumbled, unsure, and insecure. I am pretty sure that we’ve all been there and done that.
For the Christian, it is vitally important that we keep the communication line open with our Heavenly Father. He waits for us. Even at times when we don’t know how to pray—when there are no words—we have the assurance that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us. He goes to the Father on our behalf because we know not what we ought to pray for. He waits for us to come to Him in humility and honesty.
So, now you have it – my claim to fame! Who knew that years later I would be writing about it, trying to bring a little humor and encouragement to others? Well……God knew. I stand amazed that He takes us wherever we have been, whatever our situation in life and uses those experiences for our good and His glory. Time means nothing to Him. It was created for us and we can use it any way we want.
Today, let’s choose to focus on the things that are truly important and keep the communication lines open with our Heavenly Father. It is the best way to keep those letters straight, knowing where each one belongs.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for such sweet memories that have survived in my mind over the years. Thank you for teachers who invested their lives into mine. I am thankful for the long lasting difference they’ve made and for the foundational life lessons that have served as positive influences throughout my lifetime.
We praise you for who You are and for how You love us, even when our minds become jumbled with things that may distract us from living out our faith in a manner that is good and lovely. Please help us to consistently and continuously fall in step with how You want to work in and through our lives. Give us wisdom and lead us where we can make a difference in the lives of others. This I pray in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our eternal Lord and Savior. Amen.