Blessed Assurance

Note from Beth: I am grateful to have Jim Lange visit as a guest storyteller and even more so for the many days God has blessed us with his life – 90 years this month! Enjoy!

Uncle Jim loves to tell a story

A remarkable incident happened to me years ago that assured me that my God was not a God who was far off, but a God who was very near. It occurred early in my career while I taught at St. John’s Lutheran School in Glendale Long Island, New York in the late 1950’s.  For a number of years Grace and I attended the Atlantic District Teachers Conference at Pocono Crest, a facility of the Atlantic District LC-MS in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The conference was held for Atlantic District school teachers in the latter part of October, and we were always delighted that we could take such a break from school teaching and participate in the Conference with fellow teachers. 

Jim’s beautiful Bride Grace of 61 years and one of his great nieces, Louisa.

In one of those years, when a Thursday afternoon session ended, there was still time before the evening meal for me to take a walk. I intended to follow a path that the main lodge displayed on a map of the area. I donned my raincoat  because of the misty weather to follow a path that was pictured as going  around a small lake before returning to the lodge where it  began. As I walked it seemed like the lake was much further away than I had assumed it would be, but I kept walking, following the path. Darkness was beginning to settle in. I considered turning back, but I reasoned that a shorter distance would be after I reached the lake. Finally, I did get to a small lake, but it was also where this path ended. I had been on the wrong path and I was at the wrong lake! I had to return the way I had come. Time passed as I walked and I realized what a distance I had come!  As I walked darkness set in, though the sky was still visible.  In darkness, I could tell I was on the path because nothing obstructed my progress—until; until I came to an area where I ran into nothing but branches of the evergreen trees that bordered the path. I pushed back at the obstructing branches, but nothing gave way to reveal a path. I had badly erred and knew I was paying for it. As I continued to seek the path, I was able to make out a large rock positioned at that place, sat on it and talked to God. “O Lord, if I have to stay here till morning light, I will, but stay with me and give me courage to endure it.” As I sat, I continued in thought and prayer.

After a little while, I felt I should be doing more, so I started poking around at the place where I thought the path should continue. Behold, branches gave way and the path was before me!  I was elated. Though I couldn’t see it, I could feel the path because it was paved; a misstep onto something unpaved would be easy to recognize. With a joyful heart I walked faster, and soon heard the sound of my feet crossing a footbridge over a small stream that signaled I was in the vicinity of the lodge. I did not see the footbridge, but did not even consider a misstep that might land me in the water. After my prayer, it seemed the Lord was controlling my movement and all I needed to do was to be extremely glad and thankful. I was smiling when I got back to my room and explained to Grace why I missed supper. My Lord and my God had just vividly shown me that he exists and that he responds to needs. This experience has been a constant assurance that God loves and cares for me—and for all who call upon him.

Psalm 50:15: Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

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