Sacred Rules to Live By


Phyllis Singing Bird BallardMy mother, grandmother and grandfather taught me that there are three important rules to live by.
First, you must say thank you to our Creator before you receive. Before you harvest food or medicine, you say thank you. Before you go on the hunting trip, you say thank you. Before the person who is sick becomes well (physically or spiritually), we say thank you. Not only do we say thank you, but we give a gift to show our Creator that we know our prayers will be answered.
Second, and this is a step that is hard to do, we must accept any burden or challenge we may face and see it as an opportunity or lesson from which to learn. We may not like what has happened and, at the time, we usually do not understand what we can learn from the lesson. I am talking about the hard things of life such as the death of a loved one or, like my little sister, a person with physical or mental challenges.

The third and final step brings blessing and healing to us. This happens when we reach out to help others through what we have learned. It is our obligation to use what we learn in life to help someone else.

Let me tell you about Christopher James. He was a beautiful baby boy born to a young couple in December 1972. He was our second son. Our first son, Billy, was 2 years old. Our family was happy and every day seemed to be blessed. Then in March there came a reason to celebrate. Christopher had slept through the night for the first time.
But when I slid my hand under him to pick him up, he was ice cold! This cold thing was not my baby -- I questioned God! Why me? What had I ever done to deserve this? What had my baby done? I questioned my faith and I knew there was not any good that could come from this horror.

Relationship Comes Full Circle

Two years later, I sat in the emergency room in Baumholder, Germany with a horrible migraine headache. As I sat there waiting to be seen, a woman came running out of the treatment room screaming, “My baby is not dead!” With my headache forgotten, I followed her. I did not want to go, but I think God put a magnet in me because I had no choice.

I did my best to comfort her. Finally she yelled at me as she beat on my chest with her fists “How can you tell me everything will be O.K.?” I knew because I had been through it too! Dianne and I started a support group for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for folks in the military. It was so necessary being far from home and family.

Yes, there was good that could come from the death of my precious infant son. All that we go through in life offers us something to learn. Because we live in relationship with one another, we must use what we learn to help one another.

This thing called life is amazing. Our Sacred Father is in everything, made everything, controls everything and loves everything. 

(Phyllis Singing Bird Ballard is of Seneca and Mohawk descent and a member of Dayspring UMC in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. The devotional is from the book, On This Spirit Walk, pp. 26-27 and is used with permission from the author)