Pavement passed swiftly beneath my feet. My first day back to running after more than a week of absence. Truth be told getting into shape was not what had driven me to the chalky sidewalk that morning…
I laced up and went out because I wanted to see what the Lord had done for a stranger.
I darted down the street scanning the neighborhood for a particular house, her house. I knew I would recognize it because it was one of the only houses with a wooden ramp leading to the front porch. But as I neared the area I noticed something that caused a stiff feeling to grab at my throat, and my heart to take a downward turn…
There was the house, but the wooden planks leading to the porch were gone, the ramp was no longer there.
There were a few young women lingering on the porch. They seemed to wonder why my jog had come to a sudden standstill at the foot of their steps.
I asked for Kathy.
Kathy, a beautiful woman wrapped in bandages from the knees down and whose body refused to obey her mind. Kathy, the one who had lost a crown of hair and who puffed on a cigarette on her porch in the still of the dawn, waiting to know her fate. Kathy, the one who was confined to a moving seat and who was told the cancer had now spread to her spine. The one by whom, my heart was drawn because I saw the hopelessness of one who had been discarded by professionals with good opinions and solid test results.
I knew as I stared at the hardened faces that the answer I longed for would not be the one I received.
A younger woman with brown hair said that Kathy died Monday…
I felt the knot well up in my throat as I searched for words. “I’m so sorry…” I managed to say.
They asked who I was….
No one, really….just a stranger…
I had to go… , I choked down the sobs….
I replayed the morning, knowing that there are no accidental meetings, that there is such a thing as a divine appointment, and I cried out to the Lord…because I failed, I failed to deliver….
God I am so sorry, I could have done more, I could have said more, I should have talked with her more about salvation…
Now she was gone, and I do not know if she knew you.
I recounted the morning that I saw her there…drawn to her, and asked if I could invite myself onto her porch. It was about love, and being moved with compassion, and the hope of healing through Jesus. This healing I have been acquainted with, I have seen and experienced. We talked and prayed and embraced. She asked if I would run again the next day…I would be there….That night I wrote out a card and copied some healing verse references and wrote down heartfelt encouragement. I woke up the next day excited to see her. When I came to the porch she was absent. I left the Bible and the card on the porch table. I hoped to see her the next week.
Now that week had arrived and there was no more time, opportunity had perished ….and Kathy had crossed into the threshold of eternity.
As I poured out my heart before the Lord, I cried and felt an overwhelming grief…and then I heard in a still small voice…
“there are still three living people there…”
Go and tell them about me and my love and about the salvation and peace I want to bring to their family…
Lord, they are going to think I am crazy… they will drive me off…I am scared.
To which was spoken a verse that had the power to set me free…
“Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty. He alone is the Holy One. If you fear Him, you need fear NOTHING else.”
I finished changing and headed back down the street. No one was lingering on the porch and the neighborhood had become still. I rang the doorbell.
One of the same young women from before answered the door.
“Remember me from earlier?” I asked.
“Of course”…she said. We lingered for a slight moment, and then I proceeded. Pouring out my heart, I told her that I was heartbroken her Mom had passed away and that in that heartbreak ( however strange it may seem, considering I met her only once) I cried out to the Lord. I told her what I felt the Lord had shared with me concerning her family. Her eyes, welled up with tears….
I didn’t even know God cared about my prayers..she said.
She went on to explain that for four nights she prayed quietly in her room to God, asking Him for the very thing He placed on my heart to tell her He wanted for them….no one believed in Him but her, and her heart cried out and He heard her prayers and saw her….
God sees you.
He hears the cries coming from the deep of your heart and has great compassion…on you.
….and though the occasion was sad, the moment was a twisting of the beauty and majesty of God mending hearts and lives and intertwining us in this grand tapestry that we so rarely understand.
She went on to give me a gift that she would scarcely know she had given. She spoke to me of her Mother asking for forgiveness to God….and told me how much a small moment that fateful morning had meant to her. She relayed how she had heard all about me and that the card and Bible were a great encouragement to her Mom. In that moment, though my heart was sorrowful, it was simultaneously comforted. Her Mom in that brief morning of time meant more to me than she would ever know. We embraced and parted ways knowing that God is bigger than all things…and over all things….always.
How then is God so good, how is He King and Lord over all that we understand and all that we do not?
In moments of time…that might seem disconnected or even trivial, He bends His ear close and wraps His hands tight and draws us towards one another that we might be….Hands, FEET, and encouragement…to those everywhere we go…and that He may in turn~ encourage, comfort and strengthen us.
“But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us….” ~2 Cor. 7:6