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Carol was just a young mother when she learned that her first child, five year-old Brian, was beginning to experience episodes of crossed eyes and spells of sickness. After a series of visits to the doctor, she and her husband Dennis learned the awful truth that their firstborn had a brain tumor. The doctor left little hope informing them that they should expect the worst. Their son would die and the best thing they could do would be to comfort him until it happened.

Carol was a tender and caring mother to her son. She held him, rocked him and sang to him as often as she could for as long as it took. Three years later her son went to be with the Lord. The good news was they had him for three years after the discovery. But that was also the bad news. Her heart wrenched in agony for that entire time.

And, as you can expect, the pain wasn’t over just because Brian was gone. All Carol wanted to do was hold her son one more time but that possibility was also gone. She had spent hours, even whole nights holding and singing to her son to comfort him in his pain; and now she just felt empty, like there was a hole the size of Texas in her soul.

Several months after Brian had gone to heaven Carol felt a nudge to talk to a pastor in her church. After sharing her plight with him, he asked Carol an unusual question. He asked, “Did you give Brian back to God?”

Carol’s response was, “I think so.” To which the pastor responded, “If you aren’t sure, you need to do that.”

Carol knew he was right. God had given Brian to them for a season. It was now time for her to release him back to the one who really made him. That night Carol did business with God and she went away from that time with the Lord renewed.

But that was Part A for Carol being able to take hold of a new normal. Part B was the real miracle.

The following year Carol knew she had made a giant leap forward when in her heart she released her son back into the hands of the Lord. But she didn’t know what to do with the loneliness she was feeling. Her husband had been off work for a while, but was now back at work. Her other children were back in school and Carol became aware of something she hadn’t foreseen. She was now surrounded by an empty house…to go along with her empty soul.

In the quietness she asked herself, “What do I do now?”

At that she felt a peculiar but strong urge to ask God that same question. “Lord”, she screamed in her soul, “what do I do now?”

A few days later while Carol was vacuuming she heard a voice. The voice said, “Call the Red Cross.” It was so clear, she turned around to see who was there, but there was no one. Then it hit her…it must have been the Lord. I asked Him what I should do. This must be His answer.

After going through what might be considered understandable doubts, questions and apprehensions, Carol decided to just obey and do what the voice said…even though she didn’t know anyone at the Red Cross or anything about what they did.

So Carol called. As the phone was ringing she said to herself…What should I say if someone actually answers?

She heard a voice on the other end say, “Red Cross, can I help you?”

Carol said the first words that came out of her mouth. “I want to volunteer.”

The next question was, “What kind of volunteer work do you want to do?”

Nervously, Carol responded again with words she hadn’t prepared but just stumbled out of her mouth, “I would like to work with small children.”

In reality, she wasn’t sure that was what she wanted to do at all. The fact was working with small children might even bring back painful memories that could cause the grief in her heart to begin to mount again. But that is what she said just the same.

The lady on the other end of the line said, “Really, we are opening up a Children’s Department in the Northside Hospital and we will need twenty five volunteers. You can be the first one.”

By this time Carol’s eyes were clouded over and the tears were pouring down her face.

This time of volunteering with the Red Cross was exactly what Carol needed. It filled the enormous hole inside of her and helped her to face the world again.

Carol’s experience reminds us to not be afraid to make our needs known to God. He will not only hear us, but will respond to us and give us the answer we need to hear…even if it isn’t exactly what we are looking for.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1-3 NKJV)

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