Leaning Hard

I wondered why our family had experienced two fires and a burglary within 13 months, and why all this happened during the summer when my husband is so busy running the student literature evangelism programs.

The phone rang around 2:00 a.m. We had been asleep for only an hour or two. The police officer on the other end of the line said, “We have your car, and it’s drivable.”

Not wanting to pay impound fees, we ignored our desire for sleep, got up, and drove 40 minutes to pick up our precious car. It didn’t look too bad from the outside, but the thief did. The police had handcuffed him, and he exuded utter misery. When the police had located the car and started following him, he had attempted to evade them, going 90 miles per hour on city streets. Eventually he hit a speed bump, the chassis bent, and the airbags deployed, so he abandoned the car in someone’s front yard. In a desperate attempt to escape, he jumped a fence. The police, in hot pursuit, released a dog that also jumped the fence and caught and bit the fugitive.


At 8:00 p.m. the previous night, our children and I had arrived home and noticed that our second car was gone. Strange, we thought. The garage door also stood open. Our girls walked inside and realized the stereo was missing. We had been robbed.

My husband works all over the conference during the summer, so he could have been anywhere, but that night I thanked God that he was working in the city closest to us. He was home in an hour. We didn’t have the guns or jewelry for which the thieves were obviously looking, but aside from the car, they did get away with three violins, two guitars, and other items.

This was the second incident at our house in three weeks, in a supposedly safe neighborhood, out in the country, in an area that is not subject to dangers like floods, earthquakes, or tornadoes. Two Friday afternoons before the theft we were preparing for Sabbath when we heard a loud bang as our electricity went off. My husband looked out the front door and shouted for us to get out. The tall, dry grass on our property was on fire near an electrical pylon about 100 feet from our house.

I grabbed my cell phone and desperately asked my sister to pray. The fire truck showed up in about seven minutes, which seemed like an eternity. “Lord, save our house!” I cried out as we used hoses to stop the fire from coming closer.

God heard. The wind blew away from our house, and we started thanking Him aloud as rain poured for about ten minutes and helped to contain all seven fires around our neighborhood that had been ignited by dry lightning. After things settled down, I called and told my sister that the Lord had sent rain. She simply said, “That’s what we were praying for.”

Through this experience I heard God calling to my heart, saying “Trust me.” I felt ashamed that I, a Christian of many years, felt so afraid during that fire. Here was a chance to “lean hard on Jesus Christ” ( Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, p. 305) like I had never leaned before.


A year later God provided another test, perhaps because He “brings his children over the same ground again and again, increasing the pressure until perfect humility fills the mind, and the character is transformed” (My Life Today, p. 92).

It was a Friday afternoon again. Our 13-year-old daughter’s yell of “Fire!” brought us all running to the living room. There it was—a huge pillar of smoke, just a couple of properties away from us. We knew what we wanted to grab this time and quickly dropped a few valuable items into the trunk of one car before we pulled out and parked beyond the driveway. Hastily, we laid down a line of water on our property with the garden hose. Flames shot high as the fire torched trees that had endured years of drought. The smoke blew our way. Again, we prayed hard.

Soon the flames jumped onto the lower part of our property and threatened to cut off our only escape route. With no firetrucks in sight, we evacuated. I remember thinking, God has come through before and saved our house. If He chooses, He will do it.

The next morning when authorities allowed us to return, a bright, almost neon pink house greeted us. One of the six air attack planes called in to fight the blaze had dropped fire retardant directly on our house—but it was unharmed. The fire had burned to within eight feet of our living room.

I wondered why our family had experienced two fires and a burglary within 13 months, and why all this happened during the summer when my husband is so busy running the student literature evangelism programs. I am not sure why, but I know this: “The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. . . .

Nothing can touch him [the one abiding in Christ] except by our Lord’s permission, and ‘all things’ that are permitted ‘work together for good to them that love God’ (Romans 8:28)” (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 71).


I love the attitude of faith expressed in Habukkuk: “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; . . . and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God . . . will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NKJV). In modern language we might say it this way: if there is no food in the grocery store, no way to get any, no prospect of income—yet, I will rejoice in the Lord.

Being familiar with Jerusalem and the nearby hillsides, Habakkuk would have seen the female red deer about which he wrote. Her well-known surefootedness provides her only defense from predators. Evidently, she can place her back feet precisely where her front feet stepped, without making a mistake, thus running securely over difficult terrain.

Likewise, through the events He allows in my life, God is carefully shaping my spiritual feet so that I will be able to run with security and abandonment despite obstacles. I may be afraid or suffering from disease. I may wake up feeling like the day is not worth living. I may feel that circumstances are too hard. God wants to give me deer feet and take me to high places with Him.

Through it all, our family has seen God unmistakably watching out for us—and more than making up for the losses. Two months after the burglary, friends felt led to raise funds to help replace our stolen goods. The Lord’s provision and the love and concern people showed us blew us away. The two fires burned close enough to destroy some old sheds on our property, but our house was untouched.

And what about the young man who robbed us? For the nine months he was incarcerated, we sent literature, cards, and GLOW tracts, praying often for him. What if God permitted this burglary so that this man could have a chance to be in heaven, and so we could learn to lean hard on Him? I hope so. Looking back, I am humbly grateful for these unexpected trials—His workmen that bring me a little closer to having those spiritual deer’s feet.