God is our refuge and our strength,
and ever-present help in trouble.
On Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, I pick up my oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and embark on the long, back-roads journey to my mother's home in Oxford, Georgia. It is the first time Virginia will be spending the night at her great grandmother's, and she is beside herself with excitement. I, too, am elated by the prospect of having my special little lady with me for a few days, and looking forward to helping Mom with Thanksgiving dinner.
We land at the house mid-afternoon. As the weather is unusually balmy, Virginia wants to go out on the spacious screened porch on the side of the house. (You can just glimpse it in the photo above.) We are not out there more than five minutes, when an unexpected visitor shows up, meowing and begging for attention at the porch door. Virginia is enchanted and enthralled by her new friend, and promptly dubs her "Princess."
Princess, obviously enamored by Virginia's attention, visits us multiple times the following day. No matter where we walk in the yard, the kitty stays close on our heels.
"I have an idea, Virginia," I say when we've tired of tossing the bouncy ball back and forth. "Why don't we take a walk down the road to the Old Church?"
"Okay, Gammie," she says, "but do you think Princess will come, too?"
"She just might," I affirm.
We start off and, sure enough, Princess is faithfully trailing, albeit at a greater distance than she had in the yard. Virginia keeps looking over her shoulder to check the cat's progress and calling out encouragements to her to keep up. But as soon as we reach the grounds of the church, Princess is nowhere to be found.
"Here, Princess!" Virginia cries worriedly.
I try to reassure her. "Maybe she got tired of walking, honey, and just turned around to go home. We'll see her soon. I promise."
Virginia is anxious for her friend, though, so we don't linger at the Old Church for long. It's back we go, eyes peeled for Princess, and Virginia calling her name. As luck would have it, we spy her little head peeping warily out of a drain pipe. In a moment, we know exactly why she is hiding.
Turkey vultures!!! An enormous flock has appeared above us, swooping and gliding ominously, some even landing on the road in front of the Old Church!
"That's why Princess is in the pipe," I tell Virginia. "She is afraid of those turkey vultures; I don't think she'll venture out until they've flown away."
Wanting to offer her scared kitty some comfort, Virginia slides down the shallow ditch so she can reach into the pipe and stroke Princess' head. "It's going to be okay, Princess," she says soothingly. "We won't let the big bad birds get you."
We wait there for what seems an eternity before the worrisome vultures decide to depart as quickly as they came. Seeing at last that the coast is clear, Princess ventures out from the refuge of the pipe and faithfully follows us all the way back to the house.
Princess knew instinctively where to run for cover when danger threatens. When we are waist-deep in trials and struggles, is our first impulse to seek God, our refuge and our strength, or do we strive to go it alone?
I hope and pray we all remember God's ever-present help in times of trouble.