Jolene surveyed the leftover party debris as the last of her guests drove away with their parents. It had been a really nice party with lots of family members and lots of friends. She got so many nice presents and had such a great time. Yet there was still a sadness in her heart. Not because the party was over, but because the one thing she had been wishing for more than anything didn’t come true. Her dad did not make it to the party.
Jolene had even made a special invitation and had written to her dad about her one special wish for this birthday, despite the miles that separated them. Her dad had written back that, although he really wanted to be there, there was just no way he could come this year. The letter had been tucked inside the pretty pink party dress that Jolene now wore, torn and dirty from the rousing game of tag that had ended the party a little quicker than she had hoped.
With her chin in her hands, Jolene watched as her mom, her grandma, and her Aunt Josie carted away garbage and stored leftovers in plastic containers. She watched the pretty pink Happy Birthday balloons disappear inside the house and the butterfly cake with purple frosting become nothing more than a series of two inch squares on paper plates wrapped in plastic. The grownups chattered and laughed as they worked. Jolene wondered how they could be so happy when her world was so sad. She wandered over to sit under the willow tree that had always been her favorite think spot.
“I wish Dad would have been here today,” she thought to herself. “I wish that things would go back to the way they were. I wish Dad would have never met that other woman. I wish Dad and Mom could love each other again.” Her eyes started to water and she hastily wiped them with the back of her hand. “What good are birthday wishes if they never come true?” she thought to herself.
Jolene heard her mom calling her name and she went to join her on the big lounge on the patio. “Did you have a nice birthday?” she asked her.
“It was a good birthday, Mom,” she said, “but my birthday wish didn’t come true.”
“Oh?” asked Mom. “And what wish was that?”
“I wished that you and Dad would be together again,” Jolene replied.
Mom took a deep breath and gave her a squeeze. “I wish that, too, Pumpkin,” she said. “But I have something even better than wishes. I have a promise.”
For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. Psalm 145:13 (NLT)
“A promise?” Jolene questioned. “What sort of promise.”
“Well,” her mom began, “when Dad first went to live somewhere else, I was very, very sad and I didn’t know what to do to make it better. My heart was hurting all the time, like yours does now. But I heard something from the pastor at church one Sunday about how the Lord loves families and wants them to be together. He talked about how the Lord can and will restore broken marriages and families. He spoke about how marriage was a covenant and that I was to love your dad with the love of Christ, no matter what he did or where he was or what he said. I knew right then and there in my heart that God had given me a promise for your dad and for our family.”
“How did you know it was God telling you that?” Jolene wondered.
“It was just something I felt in my heart, Jolene. Just something I knew. So I started praying for your dad and for you and for our family. I started reading my Bible more and I found that God makes many, many promises in the Bible. He makes them for me and He makes them for you and He makes them for your dad.” Mom gave Jolene a peck on her cheek.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:23 (NLT)
Jolene looked up at her mom and saw the peace in her eyes and the joy in the smile that played at the corners of her mouth. Maybe there WAS something to this promise stuff. She had noticed that her mom was happier lately and that she often spoke about Dad to others in a kind and loving way. Maybe her mom DID have something better than wishes.
That night as Mom tucked Jolene into bed, she held her hand and asked her if she could pray for Dad, too. Mom smiled wide and gave her hand a squeeze as she reached over to the Bible she had set on Jolene’s nightstand many months ago. Mother and daughter snuggled together as they both began to read about something much better than wishes.
Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true. Joshua 21:45 (NLT)
Kim, a stander in Nebraska
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Unless otherwise noted, scripture quoted are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.