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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Father to the Fatherless

By Christina Quick
Oct. 19, 2014

Several years ago, Liz Bailey sensed God telling her to make an intentional effort to draw closer to Him.

A stay-at-home mom with eight children, including three with special needs, Bailey had her hands full.

“I didn’t know what was ahead,” says Bailey, who attends Evangel Community Church (Assemblies of God) in Snellville, Ga. “I was busy raising kids, but I knew I had a choice to make.”

Bailey chose obedience and started carving out extra time for prayer and Bible reading. She found the more she sought the Lord, the more she desired His presence.

“God gave me such a longing and a hunger for Him,” Bailey says.

Two years later, Bailey’s husband, Pat, became gravely ill. The diagnosis was a malignant glioma — an aggressive brain tumor. Surgeons removed the orange-sized growth but estimated the disease would claim Pat’s life within five years.

Suddenly realizing the significance of her renewed spiritual commitment, Bailey kept doing what she had learned to do: leaning on Jesus.

Bailey was no stranger to adversity. As a child, she saw firsthand the pain that alcohol brought into her parents’ marriage. After she left home, Bailey vowed she would pursue a different path. If she married, she was determined to find a good, kind man.

Pat was that man — solid, caring and Christlike. An electrical engineer, he worked hard to provide for his family. Yet he still found time to laugh and create memories with them. He helped with homework, doted on the girls, and planned projects around the house with the boys. They even built a triple bunk bed together.

Three years after Pat’s surgery, however, the cancer resurfaced. A growing tumor soon caused paralysis on his left side, leaving him unable to walk.

One morning, Bailey realized her husband could barely move at all. She wanted to call an ambulance, but Pat insisted they wait until after the kids left for school. At the hospital, doctors confirmed the cancer had spread throughout his brain. They gave the 51-year-old two weeks to live.

Pat lived another six weeks, long enough to celebrate the seventh birthday of their twin sons. On April 11, 2011, Bailey’s husband of 32 years slipped into eternity.

“My husband completed me,” Bailey says. “He was my knight in shining armor. When he went to heaven, it was so hard. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had Christ to talk to and the Scriptures to guide me. I stood on the Lord, and I asked God to show me everything I needed to do to draw on Him and get stronger.”

As Father’s Day approached, Bailey planned to honor Pat in the most fitting way she could think of: with a home improvement project. Before his death, Pat had planned an outdoor sitting area.

Bailey and her family spent six weeks working on the project, dedicating it to Pat on Father’s Day. The children wrote notes to their dad, fastened them to balloons and watched them float into the sky. They had no way of knowing they would soon say goodbye to another loved one.

In August of that year, Bailey’s grown daughter Theresa developed an infection that spread to her kidneys. The 29-year-old, who suffered from spina bifida, never recovered. Theresa died four months later, on Christmas morning. Within hours of her passing, the grieving family attended a Christmas service at their church.

“I told the children we were going to rejoice for Jesus on His birthday, no matter how we felt,” Bailey says. “I knew God was going to walk us through the pain. He had done so many miracles in our lives up to that point.”

Bailey says relying on God from one moment to the next simply became a way of life. Along with their heartache, the family faced serious financial concerns. With just enough money to pay the monthly bills, basic necessities were often scarce. Bailey worked odd jobs and encouraged the kids to seek God for provision.

“I told them we can call on people, or we can call on the Lord,” Bailey says. “We didn’t ask anyone for help. We just leaned heavily on the Lord.”

The family prayed for an entire month as they watched the food in the pantry dwindle. Just as they reached the end of their supply, friends started knocking on their door with groceries. Bailey soon had so much donated food she shared it with five other needy families.

“The only way I’ve made it through this is by pressing in to the Lord,” Bailey says. “I used to see everything half empty, but as I draw closer to Him I see my life as full and abundantly blessed.”

Bailey still struggles to make ends meet. She works cleaning houses and mowing yards while caring for six kids between the ages of 10 and 18 and her adult autistic son. The family has prayed many times for food and other physical needs, and God has answered in remarkable ways.

Bailey recalls a time when one of her children prayed for eggs while another child asked God for a special treat: grape jelly. Four hours later, a woman came to the door with groceries.

“The kids were bringing in the bags, and my 8-year-old son said, ‘Mom, not only is there grape jelly, but it’s the good kind,’” Bailey says. “Then I heard my daughter running in, squealing, ‘My eggs!’”

Bailey says that while she wouldn’t have chosen this difficult journey, she treasures the lessons in trusting God she and her family have gained.

“In the midst of it all, God has taken care of us and revealed His faithfulness in ways we never could have known before,” Bailey says. “He promises to be a Father to the fatherless, and that is what He has been for us. He has been my umbrella, my husband, and my provider.”

Earlier this year, Bailey took in her ailing sister and cared for her until she passed away. Then Bailey’s father-in-law, her last close tie to Pat’s family, died two weeks after receiving a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

Even as she works through these fresh sorrows, Bailey leads a grief recovery class at her church. Last Christmas, two years after losing Theresa, she counseled others on dealing with sadness during the holiday season.

Bailey says her trials — and her spiritual triumphs — have stretched her faith and given her greater compassion for ministry.

“God has walked me through so many things, and He has given me the strength to go through each one of them,” Bailey says. “In this world a lot of people are dealing with difficulties. I just want God to use me, and my situation, to be a blessing to others.”


CHRISTINA QUICK is a freelance writer and former Pentecostal Evangel staff writer. She attends James River Church (AG) in Ozark, Mo.

 

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