Finding Faith with a Tiger in a Parking Lot

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Fifteen years ago, my husband and I were faced with the challenge of raising two of our grandchildren. Many prayers were said at the time and many tough decisions were made. When the day came to become guardians, we were pretty sure that we could handle everything. So we went about the business of being a family, again.

At the time, our grandson was only three months old and our granddaughter was four. It was hard to get use to the routine, and it became even harder when our grandson entered school; soon after, we discovered some problems after testing him to determined that he had ADHD and learning disabilities. No problem! We believed that we could handle this with the help of the school.

As time went on, however, his behavior grew worse. So we went for more testing this time in Pittsburgh. The news was not good; he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism spectrum disorder. I remember that day well; on the way home, I just kept thinking ‘What am I going to do with this and who might help us get through this?’. I knew I had some work to do.

Our therapist saw the report shortly thereafter. He read it, looked me in the eye, and said, very softly, “Sandy, this is going to be difficult and I have to tell you it is going to be a 24-7 job. It is often said that things may get worse before they get better.” We talked for awhile longer about what I should expect.

When we were done, I got in my car, sat there, and it hit me all at once; I began to cry. You see, up to this point our job was hard but now it was going to be a greater challenge. I knew that extra help was needed; faced with the fact that I looked inside myself for faith. Still crying, I immediately recalled a humorous story that I once had heard:

A man was being chased by a tiger. He ran as hard as he could until he was at the edge of a cliff with the tiger in hot pursuit. The man looked over the edge of the cliff and saw a branch growing out of the side of the cliff a few feet down. He jumped down and grabbed the branch just as the tiger reached the cliff. The tiger growled viciously as the man sighed a great sigh of relief. Just then a mouse came out from a crevice and began to chew on the branch. The man looked down to what was a drop of a thousand feet and sure death and looked to the heavens and yelled out, “Dear God, if you are there, PLEASE HELP!  I WILL DO ANYTHING YOU ASK BUT PLEASE HELP!”

Suddenly a voice came booming down from heaven, “You will do anything I ask?” it questioned.

The man shocked to hear a reply to his plea yelled back, “ I WILL GLADLY DO ANYTHING YOU ASK, BUT PLEASE SAVE ME.”

The voice from heaven then replied, “There is one way to save you but it will take courage and faith.”

The branch began to weaken from the mouse and the tiger was still growling a few feet above the man. “PLEASE, LORD, TELL ME WHAT I MUST DO AND I WILL DO IT!”

The voice from heaven then said, “Alright then. Let go of the branch.”

The man looked down to a fall of a thousand feet and certain death. He looked up at the hunger tiger a few feet away and he looked at the mouse still chewing on the branch. Then he looked up at heaven and yelled, “IS THERE ANYONE ELSE UP THERE?!”

So as I sat in my car, looking inside myself, I grasped for the courage to let go of the branch (so to speak).  I needed to be as faithful as I could be and let God be in control, more than I had ever done before. I had to realize that God sometimes permits problems in our lives to become a good thing. I was either going to be defeated by this or developed by it. My faith requires me to trust that God works in our lives, even when we do not recognize it or understand it.

I believe that God direct us; builds a fire under us for motivation; inspects us to see what’s inside; protects us as some problems become blessings in disguise; and, lastly, improves us as our patience develops and our trust and faith grow.

I learned not to worry and became blessed in my faith.


This is a guest post from Sandy, a parent on the Advisory Board. We asked her to share a story from when we discussed loss and future.

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