During this COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to know who to believe and what will happen. In a conversation with my friend, an LCMS pastor’s wife in Naples, Florida, it was evident Who is getting her through this strange, scary time in our world: God!
Joanne says she lives day to day; she simply stops and lets God be God. She puts her own perceived needs on the backburner and lets God decide. How did Joanne develop this trust in God? She recalls Proverbs 3:5 — Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
She grew up in the city of Detroit, yet fell in love with horses when she was a toddler. When she was about eight, her family began driving Joanne into the country on the weekends to learn how to ride a horse. When Joanne became a Girl Scout cadet, she was able to work at a training center to learn about taking care of horses.
In time, Joanne married and went with her husband, Don, to the Seminary in St. Louis. They had two children. Sadly, she was not able to find the time or place to continue working with horses, and while she missed that part of her life, she was happy and busy. Her husband graduated, and they received a call to be missionaries in the mountain region of the Philippines.
While serving our Lord in the Philippines, Joanne learned to live as the people did: day to day in the Lord. It was hard work, and everything took time. It took five years for Joanne to learn the language, although she thought she could learn it in several months. It took three years to build a house, although she thought it would also be completed in several months. Joanne learned to “go with the flow” and let God be in charge. One of the hardest tasks was communicating and sharing the Gospel with the Philippine people, as it meant changes in altitudes as they walked up and down the mountains. Breathing was an effort. They often felt too tired to share the Gospel.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
Then they discovered mountain ponies! Amazing! Joanne was able to teach her husband, her children, and other Christian workers how to ride and care for the ponies so they could ride up and down the mountains and not be weary. The ponies carried not only Bibles, tools, and medicine, but also the bearers of Good News. (In the picture above, Joanne is the rider on the right, sitting on the white pony.) Joanne likened this time of weariness to our world today, which is wearing us down with our daily struggles and fears. Her go-to verses are Isaiah 40:28, 30-31: Have you not known? Have you not heard? ... He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. …. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; … they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
After the Philippines, God called Pastor Don, Joanne, and their four children to Faith Lutheran in Naples, Florida. Much to Joanne’s surprise, five minutes from the church was an equestrian center. Time passed. One of Joanne’s granddaughters was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. She took her for riding lessons to see if that would help her granddaughter with communication skills. After one week of lessons and riding horses, the quiet little granddaughter was singing, talking, and laughing. Today, the equestrian center has developed into a therapeutic equestrian center.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse!
The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11).
A statue of a white horse stands prominently in the entrance hallway of Joanne’s home. She humorously says it is a reminder that the horse is the only animal mentioned in Revelation, which proves the horse is God’s favorite animal! I say the statue is a daily reminder that God works in us for our good and for the good of everyone. He is always Faithful and True in our day-to-day journeys.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
We can now see how God began his work in an eight-year-old girl and her love for horses. We can see how God blessed others through her.
Read Hebrews 11 to see how God used people and kept His promises. How does that help you trust God’s plan for you, knowing He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6)?
How has God been Faithful and True to you? Can you identify your God-given strengths and gifts? How has God used your likes, your interests, your gifts, and your strengths to further His Gospel and serve others? How has your faith helped you see beyond this present pandemic and planted your feet firmly, knowing Christ is more secure than the rising of the morning sun?
May you know that in every circumstance, our heavenly Father is holding you. He knows your needs and will be in charge of all your days. Christ is the one sitting on the white horse. He is Faithful and True.
Heavenly Father, we pray: “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. … Thy will be done.” Thank You for being in charge of all our days. Thank You for the many gifts You have nurtured in us. Thank You for equipping us to meet life’s challenges. Enable us to use our gifts from You to share You and Your saving Word. Thank You for being our Savior, Faithful and True.
Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
LWML Chesapeake District
We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.
Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!