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“For I know the plans I have for you,”  declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 11)

For the past few months Mark and I have been attending and helping to host some Zoom lectionary studies with our Santa Cruz congregation. There are often a handful of attendees, but Esther has been a faithful participate at both the Monday and Friday studies and, on several occasions, she was the only other person. Esther is a gregarious retired nurse who loves the Lord and comes prepared to get to know Jesus and us better. These gatherings are a time for us to visit, study, and be encouraged, especially throughout this pandemic. 

As the weeks passed, Mark and I wondered how we could get more people involved and started to feel some disappointment at the low turnouts.

One Friday night, it was Esther, Mark, and I reading scripture and sharing. At one point Esther paused and said, “You know what? These studies have really helped me.” She explained that after her husband died earlier last year she was having difficulty sleeping — she was afraid being alone in the house. She said that after joining the studies she has felt at peace and has been able to sleep without any trouble at all! 

Her words carried God’s blessing and encouragement to Mark and me that evening. It’s as if God was saying, “If I bring only one other person to the study, that’s the person I want you to help—and that’s the person I want to help you.”

“There is a Healing Hand at work that cannot be deflected from its purpose. … We have to be candles, burning between hope and despair, faith and doubt, life and death, all the opposites.”   - William Brodrick