God’s Will

By Debbonnaire Kovacs

Susannah May Farmer ran down the lane to her house, clutching the mail. “Matt!”

Matt appeared at the door.

“Mac and Joseph wrote to us!” Susannah breathlessly handed her brother his letter and took the rest inside to her mother.

Mom looked through the stack, looking worried. “Bills, bills, bills!”

“Me have letter!” Johnny cried.

“Here you go.” Susannah handed him a tractor advertisement.

Mark and Luke raced up. “We want one!”

“Is there a sticker letter?”

“Nope, sorry guys, no sticker letters today.” Susannah wished there were a sweepstakes letter. Those letters always had “stickers” advertising all kinds of magazines. The boys would stick the tiny squares all over themselves, the house, and each other, but at least it would entertain them for a while.

“Susannah, look!” Matt held out a picture he had just removed from his letter.

Susannah took it. She hadn’t even gotten to open her letter yet. Had Mac sent her a picture? “Hey, cool, they made sheep sock puppets last week in Sabbath School, just like we did!” The picture showed Mac, Joseph, Hannah, and Trevor, holding their puppets and grinning broadly.

Susannah gave Matt his picture and took her letter upstairs to read. She had barely begun when Mom called her. “Just a minute, Mom!” she called impatiently. “I’m reading my letter!”

“Sorry. Come as soon as you can, please.” Mom sounded tired.

Feeling guilty, Susannah read Mac’s next sentence. “Our class ‘fed lambs’ by telling stories at a day-care center. It was really fun!”

Susannah could hear her not-so-lamblike brothers squealing downstairs. “More like little pigs!” she muttered to herself.

She tried to concentrate on the letter. It would only take a little while to read it. But thinking about last week’s lesson reminded her of this week’s—Noah and the ark. Ms. Kimoto had said, “Noah only wanted to know what God’s will was for him. Then he did it.” Susannah shut her eyes. “What is Your will for me, God?”

After a minute, she put Mac’s letter down. It would still be there later.

She ran down the stairs and into the kitchen. Mom was at the stove stirring something, Johnny on one hip and Mark and Luke arguing at her feet. Susannah put her arms around Mom’s waist. “Sorry I was grouchy,” she said quietly. Then she took Johnny and whirled him around in a circle. “Who wants to play hide-and-seek?”

Fight forgotten, Luke and Mark yelled, “We do, we do!” and followed her out of the house at a thundering gallop. After hide-and-seek, they played tag. Susannah tried to run some steam out of them, but they only seemed to get wilder. There were days like that. After years of big-sistering boys, she knew that by now.

After supper, Mom and Susannah and Matt had to work hard to get the table clean, food put away, dishes done, have a brief worship, and get three little boys bathed and to bed. Luke got up four times for a drink of water. Susannah lay down beside him and told him the story of Noah and the ark in a voice that grew slower and quieter until finally he was asleep.

Then she still had her barn chores to do. She would have asked Matt to do them, but she wanted to spend time with Daisy’s kids while they were tiny. Susannah spent extra time with the goats and horses. She took out her favorite rabbit and held him for a while. Then she realized she’d better get the milk into the house and filtered. It wouldn’t do to let it sit around, especially since the weather was growing warmer.

She went to the kitchen, poured the milk through a milk filter, and refrigerated it. Where was Mom? Susannah looked through the house. She finally found her mother sitting on the porch swing in the darkness.

“Mom? Is something wrong?”

Mom sighed. “Oh, no, honey, nothing is any different. Too many bills, too little money, too many jobs, too little time.”

Susannah sat beside her on the swing and leaned her head on Mom’s shoulder.

“Sometimes I wonder.” Mom sighed.

“Wonder what?” Susannah asked.

“Whether I should go ahead and put you kids in school and get a job,” Mom explained.

“And the boys in day-care?” Susannah asked, horrified.

“Maybe we’d do better.” Mom sounded defeated.

Susannah knew that when Dad had left them, Mom had decided she would stay home with her kids no matter what it took. She worked hard, making wreaths and flower arrangements for places like Lilies of the Field, selling handmade crafts, and raising a garden and orchard and their own eggs and milk to keep down grocery bills. Lately, she was helping Dr. El-Charif, Solly’s mom, with her garden. But it never seemed to be enough.

“Better at what, Mom? We might have more money, but what good would that do if we never saw each other? You’re always there for us. We’re there for each other. Remember? We get by. I’ll try harder. I’ll help you more.”

Mom turned to her. “Oh, no, you won’t. You do too much as it is. I depend on you much more than I should. You’re a child, Susannah. You’re a wonderful daughter, and a wonderful sister, and you’re a great help to me. But I need to be the grown-up. I’m sorry I said anything to worry you. There are adults I can talk to. And of course, the One I must depend on is Jesus.” She smiled suddenly. “He’s big enough to take care of us, don’t you think?”

Susannah hugged her. “Let’s pray now.”

They did, and Susannah went to her room, feeling much better and knowing Mom did too. As she got ready for bed, she saw Mac’s letter lying on her dresser. She had forgotten all about it. She picked it up and sat down.

“I’ve been trying to learn to see everyone I meet as Jesus’ little lamb,” Mac wrote. “Even grown-ups. I think kids can encourage grown-ups, don’t you?”

Susannah smiled. She pictured her mom on Jesus’ lap, being loved and cared for as His little lamb. Her smile grew. She thought of herself and Mom, both in Jesus’ lap. She finished Mac’s letter and climbed into bed. At least, being the only girl, she had a room to herself! She turned so she could look out her window and watch the stars.

“Did I do Your will today, God?”

Still smiling, Susannah fell asleep.

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