Practice Makes Perfect

By Debbonnaire Kovacs

Michael Arthur Patterson tipped his head and concentrated as he ran his fingertips slowly along the raised dots on his paper. He went to a special school for the blind, and he was practicing reading Braille.

Long ago, a blind Frenchman named Louis Braille had invented a system of writing and printing that a blind person can read with his fingers. Louis was only 15 at the time! A special machine presses raised dots into thick paper. Each small group of dots makes a pattern that represents a letter of the alphabet or a punctuation mark. Mike was even learning to use the school’s Braille writer. When he got older, he would have one of his own.

After reading, the teacher said, “We are going to start something very special today. Listen!” A flutelike instrument played a lively tune. Mike listened in delight.

“That is a recorder,” Mike’s teacher said. “And we are going to learn to play them!”

A plastic instrument with little holes down one side was put into everyone’s hands. Mike ran his fingers over his and then blew into one end. So did everyone else. “Stop, stop!” Mike’s teacher laughed. “Horrible! Now listen up—”

Too soon, music class and school were over, and the students went outside to wait for their rides. Some walked with a long, red and white cane to feel the ground in front of them. A few had Seeing Eye dogs. Mike longed to someday have a Seeing Eye dog of his own.

“Here I am, Mike,” Dad took Mike’s arm to lead him to the car.

“Hi, Dad. Today we started learning to play the recorder! It was so cool!”

“That’s great! I can’t wait to hear you play!”

On the way home, Dad said, “Mike, I have to go away next week. There’s a convention of florists, and I really want to go. I hope I can get some new ideas that will make Lilies of the Field a better store than ever.”

“Can I come?” Mike asked.

May I come, and no, not this time, sorry. It’s clear across the country in San Francisco.”

There was silence in the car for a minute. Mike felt his heart begin to race. “That means you have to fly.”

“Yes, son. Now listen, I know how you feel about flying—” Dad began.

Mike interrupted him. “No, you don’t, or you wouldn’t do it!” Mike was being very disrespectful, and he knew it. He clenched his teeth together. No way was he going to cry like a big baby!

He felt the car come to a stop and hunched his shoulders so that Dad wouldn’t hug him. It didn’t work. “Listen to me,” Dad said. His chin rested against the top of Mike’s head. “Do you think it doesn’t bother me? I can’t help thinking about it too.”

Mike shut his eyes tightly. He didn’t want to think about it. He didn’t want to remember the terrifying day when they had learned that Mom’s plane had crashed. Mike had been pretty small then, only five, but he remembered. And he had hated planes ever since.

“Why can’t you drive?” he demanded. His voice still sounded angry. He hoped his dad knew he really wasn’t—only scared.

“We’ve been through this before, Mike. I drive to all the conferences I can. But sometimes they’re too far away. God will be with me.”

“He was with Mom too. So what?” Mike could feel the tears coming.

“Good question,” Dad said. “What difference did it make that God was with Mom? Can you tell me?”

Mike couldn’t answer. He changed his mind. He was angry. Angry at God. If God had been with Mom, why hadn’t He saved her?

“It might help to imagine that God wasn’t with Mom. What difference would that have made?”

Mike tried to imagine it. It was so scary, his tears dried up. Mom had surely been very frightened when her plane lost control. What if she had had to face that without knowing God was right there with her? And if God hadn’t been with her . . .

“We’d never see her again!” Mike gulped and lifted his head from Dad’s chest. “OK, I know, it did make a difference, and I’m sorry I said ‘so what.’ But Dad—what if God lets you die?” Mike wanted to cry again, just thinking about it.

Dad put his hand on Mike’s face. “I really, really don’t think that will happen. You know, planes are—”

“I know, I know, safer than cars.”

“Well, they are. And I don’t think God will leave you with no parents. But here’s the point. Can we trust Him no matter what? If I died, you’d have Aunt Rose. And if she died, you’d still have Jesus. Some people have gone through so many terrible things, you wonder how they can possibly still believe in God, and yet their faith gets stronger every time they face a trial. Can you and I be like that?”


“There’s only one way. The Bible says Jesus has perfect faith, and that we can have the faith of Jesus. We have to ask Him for it, and then cling to Him in constant prayer. And always remember, He is not the one who causes the bad things to happen! When Satan thinks he can knock us down with some scary or painful trial, are we going to let him?”

“No!” Mike rubbed his face with his hand. “No way.” He was quiet for a minute. “How long will you be gone?”

“Five days.”

Mike felt the tears drain away and sighed. “Then I guess I have to pray for five days without stopping, don’t I?”

He could hear the smile in Dad’s voice. “Yep. Good thing, too, because we’re supposed to pray without ceasing, anyway. So you can practice. Just like you practice your recorder.”

Mike still didn’t like it. He wanted everything and everyone to always be safe. But he figured he only had two choices. He could let God handle things and trust no matter what, or he could fuss and fume and make himself miserable, and God would still be the only One who could handle things! What would be the point of that? “Practice makes perfect!” he agreed. “Will you bring me something awesome from San Francisco?”

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