“Treasures of Darkness” illustration by Gary Gaede

Advent Day 15 – Sunday, December 16

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

God speaks to us in many ways. The key is to listen.

My story starts out when I was in my late 20s and was a member of the local Jaycee chapter. One of our largest projects was to raise money and to volunteer at a camp for disabled children in the Black Hills. I showed up at camp and was assigned to be the personal counselor for a girl named Vickie. Vickie had cerebral palsy and was in a wheelchair. I was her legs and physical strength for activities. For canoeing, I would pick her up, place her in the canoe and, when done, put her back in her chair. When playing baseball, I pushed her around the bases. Hiking, painting, and doing skits with Vickie around the campfire were also experiences I will never forget. I especially treasured the laughs and smiles that would come from Vickie.

Camp came to an end and Vickie asked me to put my wooden name tag—that I had made—around her neck. I did. Although I knew Vickie enjoyed her time at camp, I felt like I was the one who was rewarded. I learned how giving of myself helped me be thankful for the healthy life I was given, and thankful I was given the blessing of getting to know Vickie.

Fast-forward nine months. I was home one weekend moping around feeling sorry for myself. I wasn’t married. I didn’t know what I should be doing, and was feeling downright depressed. What was my purpose? For some reason I decided to drive 60 miles to Rapid City, to the mall, to get away and try to think through things. While looking at clothes in Penney’s, I came around the corner and who should I see—Vickie! She was in her wheelchair and when she saw me a big smile appeared on her face. I approached her to give her a hug and I noticed my name tag around her neck. We visited a little bit, and I realized that God had put us there for a reason. What were the chances two people who had one short encounter for four days and lived 100 miles apart would happen to meet in an unplanned location? What were the chances Vickie would be wearing my name tag? Maybe I had made a difference. Maybe I did have a purpose. My heart felt the weight of my darkness and troubles go away.

God had spoken and I was listening. Now I needed to continue to listen as I moved forward with my life. God put Vickie in my life for a purpose. She had been a treasure in my darkness. God was speaking and encouraging me to keep moving forward and that he would always be there to guide me.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for always watching over us and delivering us from darkness. Give us direction in our lives. Give us the wisdom to listen and follow your guidance to do your works to your glory. Amen.

— Lon Hawley