On Monday I returned from Scotland after leaving my youngest and last child off to university in Edinburgh. Fourteen years ago Brendan and I left our daughter Mary up to Aberdeen. We returned home to rear nine more of our children. Whew!!!! How did we do it? I can say it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that we accomplished the work. God gave us the strength one day at a time. Thank you Lord.
As I was thinking back I began to wonder what work I will return to do when I go home this time.
I did not have to wait long to find out. A taxi picked me up to take me to Glasgow airport. The taxi driver was friendly but I did not want to engage in conversation. After a while I thought I should respond to say something to him. He asked if I had enjoyed my time in Glasgow. I told him I was leaving my fourteenth child off to university. The questions came fast and furious after that. How old were my other children? How did you manage to rear that big family? You don’t look old enough to have all those children. I felt free to tell him how Jesus had helped me over the years, how he gave me strength to keep going, how he healed me of cancer. It turned out his mother was from Donegal and he was from a family of ten.
When I arrived in Belfast I got a lift with a young man to pick up my car. He was asking me if I had been to anywhere nice. I started over again telling him my story. He said I was too young to have so many children. I went on to give God the glory for him renewing my youth and keeping me alive.
Psalm 103 says He renews your youth like the eagles and satisfies you with good things.
I was feeling quite encouraged as I drove off home.
I saw a sign along the road which said “Potatoes for sale”. I screeched the brakes and turned left off into a side road. I always enjoy fresh potatoes grown locally. You can’t beat freshly boiled new potatoes and butter. I don’t like the packaged potatoes from the supermarket. It has been the staple food in Ireland. The crops of potatoes failed in the mid eighteen hundreds due to disease and many people died or left the country because of the famine. I have always had a bag of potatoes in my kitchen. My children would never go hungry.
One year a young lady from Boston came to help me for the summer, as my husband was travelling to India. Her mum rang her one day and her mum could not believe she was sitting down to a dinner of potatoes and beans! Back home Sheila would live on Mc Donald’s food or her favourite was a Sub sandwich with lashings of Ranch sauce. She was none the worse from living with us.
Sheila was to fly home on September the eleventh, when the twin towers fell. She was in shock as we watched the tragedy unfold on T V. We comforted her as best we could as she cried with her people back in America. She was able to get a flight home a few days later.
I am reminded of another young American woman who arrived into Dublin a few years later on the eleventh of September. Susan was coming to stay with her mum who lived here in Ireland. I met her in the airport. She was in a wheel chair with one suitcase. She had advanced M.E. a fatigue syndrome. It was amazing they let her fly in her condition. A kind friend on the other side in America had helped her get on the plane.
Susan lived with her mum for the next while and with rest, good food, love and the beauty of the Irish scenery she was getting more strength, but could not walk unaided. She came to visit us with her mum. Brendan and I offered to pray for her. The power of God touched her and she rose up and walked unaided. She completely recovered. In time she got married and had a child. There is a story in the bible where Peter and John spoke to a man who was crippled and commanded him to walk in the name of Jesus in Acts 3 v 6.
Back to my story about the potatoes. I met the potato man. I asked him if his potatoes were grown locally. He went on to tell me he used to grow crops himself but had to stop because he had arthritis in his spine and was in constant pain. He brought the potatoes in from Portrush. I soon forgot about the potatoes. I felt compassion for this young man who could not do the work he loved and support his family. I had been healed of cancer and pain and I wanted to tell James that Jesus could heal him too.
I spent the next thirty minutes telling him how I was healed by prayer to God. He told me his wife and children were praying for him. Well I said “God is about to answer their prayers, because I would like to pray for you”. He was agreeable. I believe the next time I call with him he will be healed and restored and growing his own potatoes. God, who made the universe and who made you and I, is kind. He can deliver us from our troubles, heal and restore.
I have just had potatoes for dinner. Every time I have these potatoes I will remember James. I believe my work is to continue what I did on Monday, telling others what God has done for me.