I (Didn’t) Quit!

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hotsunI stretched my aching back. I can’t do this
anymore, my body screamed. Why had I ever agreed to this? Then
again, how could I have said no? We were on a summer mission
teaching vacation Bible school to at-risk kids on a Native American
reservation.
But the reality? I was the one at risk. After days of trying to
soldier through blistering heat, I knew I wasn’t going to make it.
The breezeless, treeless, dusty baseball field serving as our
headquarters was like a frying pan, and I was sunburned from head
to toe.

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Don’t get me wrong; I’d tried to be thankful for the opportunity.
But as another glob of hot, oily sweat rolled down my back, I
finally gave in to misery. I broke free from the one-millionth game
of Red Rover. I had to get away-right then and there.

I trudged across the field toward the dugout. I was easing onto a
bench when I noticed a little girl had tagged along. Frankly, I had
no attention left to give her. I closed my eyes and leaned against
the wall. For a time neither of us spoke. Then she tugged at my arm
and pointed across the field.

“Do you see that white car over there by the gray house?”
she asked.
I squinted to see the car, located it, nodded.
“That’s the police. They’ve come to take my daddy.”
Suddenly the heat wasn’t so consuming.
“My little brother cries each time they come.” Her face
was as expressionless as the faded brown dress she wore.
Like an ice-cold river, the reality of her situation washed over
me. Her flat tone belied pain; hurt so deep and constant that she
no longer cried-or even reacted. I ached to help her.
“Can I pray for you and your dad?” I asked.

She dropped her head. After a long silence, I simply began:
“Dear God, please comfort this child and her family. Please
keep the police from taking her dad. Please help this family know
that you love them…Amen.”

When I opened my eyes, her huge brown eyes were staring at me,
searching.
“Do you always say those words when they take people
away?”
she asked.
It struck me that she’d never heard a prayer before. Oh God, I
pleaded silently. Why did I ask you to keep the police from taking
her dad when they were already at the door? What would she think of
God when they inevitably took her father?
“I was talking to God because he can help you,” I said
finally. “He made you, your brother, your dad, and all of us.
He loves you.”

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She smiled, then began to draw circles in the dirt with her feet.
My eyes wandered to the face of each child on the field. I didn’t
just see a bunch of kids, but precious children with names, needs,
fears-all waiting to be touched by God’s love. No longer was I
worried about how I could make it another day; instead, I wondered
how I could’ve even considered quitting.

The next day, the little girl skipped up, grabbed my arm, and said,
“They didn’t take my dad.”

The thank yous to God that burst through every fiber of my heart
in that moment could’ve ignited the entire field.

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