The Best Lesson I Ever Learned

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Sugar Blues
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Best Lesson
Terrible circumstances
Sometimes terrible circumstances can yield life's greatest treasures.

Edgewood Protestant Orphanage

Edgewood Protestant Orphanage
1801 Vicente Street
San Franicsco, California
At age six I went to live in the Protestant Orphanage in San Francisco. (Now known as Edgewood Center for Children and Families.)

I did not understand alcoholism, divorce, or lack of child support; nor did I understand what was happening. I only felt abandonment and sadness. I had a lot of questions, none of which I had the courage to ask, so I kept them deep inside of me, where they ate away at my self-confidence and self-worth.

Help is on the way
Every Sunday morning a pastor and his family came to visit the orphanage. All the children (150 of us) and the adult staff gathered in the gym. They told us of God's great love for us. They read to us from the Bible, explaining how God was reaching down to touch and help the people on the earth. I was fascinated when the pastor's wife used the elaborate flannel pictures, telling stories from the Bible. We sang wonderful songs that lifted my heart and caused me to hope life could be better. Those songs became my lifeline to God.

When I heard the "big people" pray, they used funny words such as "Thou dost," "We trusteth in Thee," and "Thou didst." I didn't understand these strange words, and wanted to speak properly when talking to God. What was I going to do? I grabbed my hymn book and thumbed through the songs until I found one that spoke to my heart and then I sang my prayers to God. "What a friend we have in Jesus..." " Jesus, tender shepherd hear me, bless thy little lambs tonight, through the darkness be thou near me, keep me safe 'til morning light." "Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life, let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life!" " Even though I know those big words now, I still like to sing songs to God.

There was a gentleness and genuineness about the pastor and his family that drew me to them. I began to trust them and I opened myself to their best friend, Jesus Christ.

I learned first hand that God loves me and would care for me throughout my whole life. At the tender age of 8, I learned the greatest lesson in my life: God is REAL and God is CLOSE. I have found this to be true, and believe me, I have road-tested that relationship over the years!

God is real.
God is personal.
God is close.

Why do bad things happen to good people?
I don't believe God causes terrible things to happen to people. We are the ones who do that. All of our choices have built-in consequences (good or bad). Our immaturity, ignorance and selfishness can cause terrible consequences for ourselves and for others.

Jesus has revealed to us the heart of God with all it's love and compassion, not unlike the most wonderful, caring parent in the whole world. God promises to take everything that happens to us and, ultimately, cause it to benefit ourselves and others when we rely on the promises of the Bible, and in the guidance and power of God. That's quite a miracle in itself, isn't it?

What a great lesson to learn at the age of 8. At 63, it still works.

Lessons learned the hard way:

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ESL Ministry
Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church
1801 Lacassie Avenue Ball Walnut Creek Ball California 94596 Ball  925-935-1574
Joanne Rae Meads Ball
September 16, 1999

© Copyright 1999 by Joanne Meads, All Rights Reserved