- Gladys Childs
One Simple yet Powerful Story of How God Provides for His Beloved People.
Have you ever had one of those days where everything simply fell apart? Perhaps it was a week, a month, or years of turmoil and chaos. When everything is falling apart it can often feel like things will never get better. Hope is lost.
The last week of December 2022, my family was in Alabama visiting my in laws. It is a time we always look forward to as my husband reads and sleeps to his heart content and I was going to work on finishing writing my book. Alas, my husband did not sleep the week away and I did not write one word as we both had Covid.
On the mend, we left Alabama early in the morning on New Year's day to drive to Arkansas. My older brother, who was trustee of my late mom's estate, was now sick and unable to finish the work. I was second in line for the task and would be taking over. We had a vague idea of what we would be walking into but would not really know until we got to my mom's house.
After a ten-hour drive, we walked into my mother's house, and it was a disaster zone. I had not been there since she passed away a year and a half previously, but it was clean when we left, yet now, stuff was literally everywhere, countertops, the floor, on the beds. A couple of pieces of furniture had been removed and the rest left in disarray. Shock and devastation engulfed me. What I thought would be a difficult but manageable scenario turned into a worst-case scenario. What had my brother being doing?
Needless to say, we cleaned the house the best we could that evening and rearranged the furniture so we could at least wake up to a clean kitchen and living room. The next day, we literally cleaned my mother's house all day long and took countless trips to Goodwill. I was up at 5:00 a.m. and went to bed at midnight for the next several days in a row as the work on her house continued.
Compounding this chaos was the fact my brother was very sick. I went to see him two days after we arrived in Arkansas. When I had last seen him a year and a half ago, he looked like any healthy person, not too thick or thin. Now, he looked like a 90-year concentration camp victim and was literally skin upon bone. More shock and devastation filled my heart. Overwhelmed does not do the entire situation justice. Going through all my mom's stuff, meeting with a lawyer to become trustee, realizing how much with mom's estate had not been done, and my brother a broken shell of who he used to be.
Long story short, we arrived on Sunday night and by Wednesday the house was ready to be looked at by a realtor. By Friday, around 11:30 a.m. the house was officially on the market. By 1:00 there had been three showings with more scheduled later that day. In between showings I went to see my brother again to spend as much time as possible with him. By 4:00 p.m., I was back at my mom's house waiting for the realtor and then it happened.
I heard a noise but ignored it. The noise became louder and persisted. Finally, I stood up and went to the window. In mom's front yard were hundreds upon hundreds of brownish--black birds. The entire yard looked like a thick covering of brownish-black snow. It was beautiful. They stayed in the front yard for a while then flew to the other side of the street and then to the trees. Then, one bird at a time flew up and over my mom's house. It was my own personal bird show. While all this was going on, I felt God say to me: "God provides," and joy filled my heart.
It reminded me of when I was a very young child in Oklahoma, looking out my bedroom window one morning as hundreds of birds flew over our house for sunnier and warmer days. It was a memory seared into my being and one I had thought of a great deal, for some reason, in the months leading up to my unexpected time in Arkansas. I knew at this moment as the birds were continuing to fly and land around mom's house that God was providing this feathery show for me, and I knew God would provide everything I needed to get through what I was dealing with, and all was well. I told God thank you and then all the birds flew away.
Thirty minutes later I was at my childhood kitchen table sifting through five house offers, all above asking price. The house had not even been on the market six hours. And a car dealer had shown up and paid in cash for my mom's car. God provides.
The next morning, I was going through my mom's entertainment center one more time to make sure there was nothing left before my niece was scheduled to come and get it. Inside I found a baby picture of my brother. In another cabinet, I saw nothing and was fixing to move on when something caught my eye. I pulled it out and it was a purple glass bird. A tiny thing. Purple is my favorite color and as always happens when I see purple my heart leapt with a spark of delight. Then it dawned on me it was a purple bird and I thought back to the display of birds on mom's front lawn and the profoundness of that moment. God truly provides and He was giving me a physical reminder to never forget He will provide over and over again.
God continued to provide the next day as I went to visit my brother yet again. I could feel God's holy presence and peace filling the space and I spent hours talking with my brother and massaging his ever so painful limbs to ease his suffering. My brother even said my name. My sister-in-law had told me a few days earlier their daughter was upset because my brother, her father, hadn't used her nickname in ages. I remember thinking and telling God, I would love to hear my brother say my name one more time, but I told no one else. God provided that day.
I continued visiting him every day and on the Wednesday morning after the house sold, my sister-in-law called and said hospice had to take the feeding tube out of his stomach due to complications. It would be a matter of time before he passed, and I should come. I was blessed to spend the last five and a half hours of my brother's life with him. While he could not speak at this time, he was fully cognitively aware and could respond with a movement or grunt. His friends came and went saying their goodbyes. Finally, it was getting late, and it was just his wife and I left with him and then he passed away.
I was privileged to be there when he died. I had been praying to God if it was His will, I would like to be there when my brother passed. However, I thought, it will have to be in God's will as what are the chances I will actually be there when he goes? God heard me and provided. My brother loved me as I came into this world, and I was blessed to love him out of this world.
Immediately after his death as a few people arrived, then hospice, and then the funeral home, there was a complete sense of peace and joy in my heart. All was well. No words can explain the feelings God provided to me at that moment.
At his funeral a week later, the room was packed, and I heard so many stories of my brother I never knew. Stories of blessing to me. As is the case at funerals, flowers and plants surrounded the chapel. During his service I kept staring at one for some reason and I couldn't take my eyes of it. I kept thinking why do I need to keep looking? Then I saw it. What I thought were red flowers were not flowers at all, but birds, cardinals to be exact. My heart leapt. After the service, my husband and I went up to look at this particular arrangement and I asked him, "In all of the funerals you have presided over, has there ever been a flower arrangement with birds in it?" My husband said no, he thought it was strange birds were in it to begin with. I did not. Even in the midst of my brother's funeral God was telling me He provides.
So, why do I tell you this story. So, you will remember God is the ultimate provider and takes care of His children. In moments of chaos and desperation if will continue to seek Him and trust Him, God shows up for His people. God provides. On my shelf now sits a purple glass bird and a cardinal to remind me lest I forget.
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Image by David Mark from Pixabay