A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
We talked our last time together about how comforting God’s merciful forgiveness of our failures is, and how His loving kindness will endure throughout eternity. I remember another time when God extended His mercy to me in my failure and used it to bless others.
When I was in high school, I worked summers in my father’s Christian bookstore. One day a woman came into the store. She asked, in a voice so low I could hardly hear, “I have to find God. Do you sell Bibles?”
“Oh, yes,” I answered eagerly. I took from the Bible case one of our nice medium-priced Bibles. It was leather-bound, with gilt on the edges of its pages, and with good, readable type. “Let me show you in this Bible what God wants you to know about Him.”
I turned to the familiar Scriptures that tell us how much God loves us, and how He longs to be our Savior and bring us to Heaven to be with Him forever—Scriptures you probably already know by heart, but ones she’d never heard before, like Romans 6:23:
For the wages of sin is death,
but the free gift of God is eternal life
through Christ Jesus our Lord.
At the end of our conversation, she prayed and asked Jesus to be her Savior. She bought the precious Bible, and hugged as she walked out of the store.
You can imagine I was ecstatic. Just think! Someone with a burdened heart had learned she could be sure of going to Heaven! Impulsively, I hugged Mrs. Miller, the manager of the shop. I hugged her so tightly that I broke her rimless glasses! With all my heart I apologized, but I didn’t offer to pay for a replacement. I should have. She was as poor as the rest of us, those early days of the war. How could I find the money to repair them? My father, I’m sure, would have paid for them, but I was too ashamed even to tell him about the incident.
Thirty years later, on a visit to my parents’ home, that experience came to mind. I told Mother, “I’ve really tried to make right with God the things I did wrong in the past, but there’s one thing I feel really bad about, and there’s no way for me to fix it.” I told her about Mrs. Miller’s broken glasses.
“Well, write her and tell her you’re sorry,” Mother said matter-of-factly.
“She’s surely dead by now.”
“No she isn’t. I got a letter from her daughter Gerry this week. Mrs. Miller lives in a retirement home in Denver.” She leafed through some mail. “Here’s her address.” Can you imagine my joy? I wrote a check I hoped was three times what I figured new lenses would cost this present day, and sent it with my profound apologies.
Gerry answered immediately. “I read Mother your letter, and she laughed and laughed. She doesn’t even remember the incident. The wonderful thing is that Mother had an important bill due, and she didn’t have the money to pay it. Your check was exactly what she needed.”
Oh! The wonderful, eternal mercies of God! How often does He move to bless us even in our broken, fallen condition! Romans 8:28 says it this way:
And we know that
God causes everything to work together
for the good of those who love Him.
An eightyfive-year-old woman saw God work in her life in a remarkable answer to her need for money. I had the joy of repaying an old, old debt. And it was all because 30 years before, an anxious woman seeking God walked into a bookstore to buy a Bible, and found the God she yearned to know.