By Jenny Lou Jones

During my elementary years, I walked home after school.   Well, it was more like I lollygagged and meandered, especially down the big hill that ended at my house.  That last perilous slope was littered with cracks in the sidewalk that I had to avoid to keep my mother’s back intact.  Where did that superstition come from…step on a crack and break your mother’s back?  Even at a young age, I didn’t want to believe it.  But just in case, I tiptoed around any cracks that would endanger my mom’s spine.

Superstitions came into vogue in the early centuries when poly-theistic gods were popular.  People at that time believed that everything was a god; there was a sun god, a wind god, a sky god, etc.  And whatever people did, they would try to avoid angering any of the gods.  “Knock on wood” to ward off bad luck came from people who were asking for favors from the tree god.   Can you imagine those prayers?  “Dear deciduous bark covered structure…would (wood) you save me from all harm including nuclear disaster.”  That’s just absurd!  The only trees that I’ve seen that interact with people are on the Wizard of Oz.  That’s when the trees threw apples at the Dorothy and her trio and their attitudes were not of a deity caliber.

Our God doesn’t ask us to knock on the Keebler elves’ house for good favor or to avoid cracks in cement.    We can break a mirror any old time without incident.  Nor do we need to spit when we talk of someone who has died.  We don’t even have to remember to eat black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day.

When we encounter bad times, it’s not the doings of a silly god that lives under our bed or in a closet.  Actually, it’s life.  Just plain old life.  We aren’t given favor from God when we give more money or keep all of the ten commandments.  God doesn’t keep a tally card of what we have or haven’t done.  Boy, I’m glad.

It’s easy to follow God when we come into money or good times.  But the same God of good things is also the God of tough situations.  It’s the hard times that send us longing, searching, and praying for God’s help.  The rougher the problem, the more we pray.

My favorite quote from  A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis is, “I pray because I can’t help myself.  I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping.  It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”

God isn’t sitting up on a puffy cloud waiting for us to get just one more person to pray for our dilemma before He “grants our wish”.  He asks us to pray, in both good and bad times, because it changes our desires to line up with his will.

The closest I’ve ever felt to God was during the time that I had leukemia and a bone marrow transplant.  It was a tough time.  But it was a special time.  I almost felt God’s breath behind me.  I sensed God’s presence and I knew that God was with me, around me, and in me so I could face what lay before me.

I would love to tell you that the feeling is still that intense with me, but it’s not.  My explanation is that He comes in the worst of times to be our feet so we can walk. To be our hands to hold on just a little longer.  To be our mind so we can make good decisions.  And be our spirit when our soul feels wounded.

Even if we work our hardest at keeping all of the ten commandments, that doesn’t keep us in perfect health with a perfect marriage and perfect children while working in the perfect job in the perfect town.  What we do have is a God who sent a perfect Son to help carry all of our burdens.  We can call on our Savior for help during calamity and praise him in abundance.

So we can feel free to step on cracks, open an umbrella inside the house, and thumb our nose at a black cat crossing in front of us.   But whatever we do, we must remember to accept the One who frees us from excessive finger crossings and all the other superstitions that the ancients thought would keep them in good graces.

God bless you! (this too can be superstition).