She came in the front door with a very purposeful look on her face. I don’t know her. Don’t know that I have ever seen her before. She looked distraught. Tired. Broken. Weary is a really good word. She looked weary.
She motioned toward me. Asked if we could talk. We sit down at one of the tables in the kitchen area where about two hundred people had just eaten breakfast. We introduce ourselves. I discover that I do know her. I know her well. She is the person who life just keeps knocking down. Punch after punch after punch. You know her too. Her appearance is years beyond her age. Her spirit defeated so many times that it seems impossible to ever be able to put the pieces back together. Physically...exhausted. Emotionally...spent. Mentally...fatigued. The word is hopeless. And we’ve met a time or two.
She takes care of her disabled husband. Their income...next to nothing. He can’t work. She does. In a job that doesn’t pay much. Her sister lives across town. She has to take care of sister too. Every Saturday she leaves her house at 4:30 AM, drives from Hazel Green to East Limestone, picks up her sister so they can both be at House of the Harvest to get food for the week, takes her sister back home, and drives back to Hazel Green.
Life is just hard. I can’t even relate. My first job didn’t even pay me $30,000 a year. My paycheck was comical. I couldn’t really even afford an apartment in Huntsville, not without roommates. That first job paid me more than twice what she makes each month...almost three times.
She tells me how God has been there for her. In particular how He sent her to the grocery store one day. She had no money. She had no food. She had one thing. An urge inside of her to go to the grocery store. In her own words, “I ain’t the type to ask nobody for nothing. I really had no idea why I was going to that grocery store other than I just felt like I was supposed to go. When I walked in I felt the Lord telling me to go to the bathroom. I didn’t have to go, but I went because I felt like I was supposed to. I opened the door and there was a ten dollar bill lying on the floor. Fed us for a few days.”
I am embarrassed. I spent more than that on my last meal. I couldn’t imagine taking ten dollars, buying some milk, eggs, a loaf of bread, and saying, “We are going to be just fine,” when I walk in the door at home. Much less, being able to thank God for providing.
I ask her what brings her to me. She says, “I know you. You are the guy that prays all the time.” I laugh. “Well, that’s because I have learned that I don't know what I am doing most of the time.”
She says, “God sent me to come see you.”
Interesting. “Tell me more.”
“I used to be so happy. I used to have so much joy. Nothing could make me upset. People use to say I was the happiest person they knew. Now I am just angry. Depressed. I snap at people all the time.”
Tears start to roll down her face. My heart breaks for her. And to think I was already preparing myself for her to ask me to pay her utility bill, or for a new refrigerator, or air conditioner. She just wants her joy back. She wants prayer. She wants freedom.
We talk some more. More tears. More sadness. More expressions of just how hard life is for families in our community. And I guess I was just so impressed that she wasn’t asking for an escape from her poverty. She was seeking an escape from her torment. As if to say, “I don't care about anything this world has to offer. I would take nothing all my life to just have my happiness.” Amen.
When it’s all said and done, I put my hand on her shoulder and we pray. Not for God to provide anything except His Spirit. Not for God to do anything except restore peace, love, and joy. We pray for freedom from the power of the enemy that comes to “steal, kill, and destroy” as Jesus put it.
That moment moved my soul. It impacted my life. It taught me something that I could never learn in church or even through my own Bible study. I thank God for that moment. I thank God for allowing me to be the recipient.
The faith alone of my new friend tells me she is going to be okay. I am going to keep praying for her, because she asked me to. But I already know that face will be smiling when I see her again. And it will be much much deeper than the smile she had when she found that ten dollar bill.
“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:8