A friend of mine was telling me of a childhood memory she has while growing up on a remote farm in upper eastern North Dakota. Betty lived with her parents and four siblings. Each member of the family had a designated job to keep the farm running. In the summer, it was fairly routine — plowing, planting, harvesting, feeding the animals, caring for the garden, canning and freezing, cleaning and laundry — we can all imagine what was on the list of chores. Summer came and went, and to her it seemed that those beautiful, hot summers became shorter every year.
The winters however were a different story. Days were short, nights were dreadfully long and the snow and subzero temperatures made leaving their farmhouse nearly impossible. Betty attended a small country school. In the winter, schools would be closed for days at a time simply because people could not get out of their homes. Nurturing the dairy cattle became a top priority since milk production was the family’s main source of income. That was a challenge in those cold North Dakota winters.
It was not uncommon for the snow to be blowing so hard that it caused an actual whiteout. Sitting at the kitchen table one fall, Betty’s dad realized the bitter North Dakota winter was quickly approaching. He could envision working in whiteout conditions that made those hazardous trips to the barn virtually impossible.
So Betty’s father thought of a clever method of mapping out the path to the barn. Betty’s dad tied one end of a very strong and long rope from the back door of their farmhouse. While holding the rope, he then carefully walked the path to the barn. He securely tied the other end of the rope to the barn door. “I think this will work!” Betty’s dad told her mom.
Sure enough, January came and with it came those dangerous, subzero temperatures. The snow and freezing wind made the trips to the barn very treacherous. Yet Betty’s dad knew the animals needed food.
So this was his daily routine during terrible weather. He bundled up with layers of clothing. He opened the kitchen door in the freezing wind and ice. He grasped the rope, and he gingerly held on to the rope as he made his path to the barn. By faith, he made it safely to the barn. He could see nothing. He could only feel the ice and snow burning his skin. Yet Betty’s dad knew his path was secure if he followed the rope. With each small step, and with every grasp of the rope, Betty’s dad blindly made it safely to the barn and then back home.
Is that not just like our relationship with God? Does it feel as though we are blindly going along not knowing what is ahead of us? Yet it depends on WHAT we are holding on to.
The Bible has much to say about the “strong arm of the Lord” or the guidance and refuge God gives those who call upon him. He is described as:
• a refuge: “thou art my strong refuge. (Psalm 71:7).
• a stretched out arm ready to help us. “With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endures for ever.” ( Psalm 136:12).
• a strong tower of refuge for safety. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous run into it, and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10).
• a mighty power. “Yet they are Thine people, even Thine inheritance, whom Thou has brought out by Thy great power and outstretched arm.” (Deuteronomy 9:29).
Sometimes the personal storms of life are blinding. Yet, But God provides a strong arm leading us on the sure path.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: