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It happened on Thursday

I’d seen him there before, the tall young man with the arm that hung by his side.  The hand that would not work like the other one.  He bagged groceries one-handed doing a fair job of it.

Today he was manning the check-out counter.

It was early morning at the grocery story because I had lots to do today.   Trying to get the shopping done first, I found myself in his check-out line.  There was only one person ahead of me, but it was obvious that things were moving slowly.  Too slowly for my busy day.  The young man had to pick up vegetables, look at code numbers and then type them in with only one good arm and hand.

I looked above and around to see if any other check-out lights were on so I could quietly move somewhere else.  Get on with my day.  Then something spoke to me.  I think it was the Spirit.  “Just be patient.  Stay in this line.  Let him check you out.  Give him a chance.”

So I did.  Before long, it was my food being transported down the conveyor belt, scanned and sent along to the bagger.  The young man and I spoke to each other, passing the time of day.  I thanked him and went on my way home, glad I stayed in his line and thankful that my Kroger offers jobs to all people.

baskart

As I rolled the baskart to my car, I understood the lesson.

We are all handicapped in one way or another.  We all have special needs.  While many are apparent, the result of birth defect or chromosomes gone awry, some of us carry our handicap invisibly, inside where no one else can see.  It may be the result of an alcoholic parent, an abusive relative, a hurtful playmate, an unfriendly world.  We bear the marks of sin upon us.  At times things are thrust in our direction causing the disability we carry through our lives.  Other times we disable ourselves by the decisions we make.

We are all struggling to make it, do our job, keep at it, trying our best to overcome this handicap, this crippling ailment.  It is the sin that so easily besets us and hinders us, keeping us from being all we could be.  All we were meant to be.

There is One who gives us a chance every single time.  He is patient and kind.  He offers His full assistance and forever love.  He tells us we can make it, we can do it, but not on our own.  We need Him to make our lives full and rich and abundant.

It matters not if all our limbs work correctly or our vision is impaired, if we walk with a limp or need a scooter to get around.  It’s not about our struggle with depression, or if we have messed up over and over.  It’s about God loving us just the way we are, right here, right now, in the mess of our fragile lives, in the mess we have made of them.

He gives us Himself and gives us a chance.  He offers His love and we learn to love in return.  He makes us better than we could ever be on our own.  He is our peace, our strength, our sound mind, and our help.

He is all we need for life, for joy, for a future.

The lesson was what I needed today.  A burst of joy on an otherwise ordinary busy day.

He is strong.  He is good.  He is kind.  He is exactly what my heart cries out for.

 

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Kindness

Kindness.  It’s a fruit of the Spirit.  It grows from being connected to the heart of Jesus when He is Lord of your life.

It came to our house today dressed like a guy with a snow plow.  I was wrestling my shovel, dressed like a bear in hibernation.  Sweet William was standing inside the garage because he cannot risk a slip or a slide on his fragile knees.  And I begged him not to.  He did not like standing there watching me with a shovel.  But what are we to do?

Then this kind person arrived, his truck hauling the snow plow behind it.

I remembered him from last year when we had the record breaking snowfall of February 2015.  I was stuck in my house with little dog, while Sweet William rested safely in rehab after yet another surgery on his knee.

My good Samaritan was a sight for sore eyes that day last year.  He made quick work of our driveway, and I was able to pull the little black Honda out of the garage for the first time in a week.

And here he was again.  Relief flooded me.  My back was aching from the work I’d already done.  We rejoiced in the kindness of someone we hardly see in our large church, except at a distance.

We offered to pay him.  He said no.  We offered to pray for him.  He said yes.  So there in our cleared drive, we joined our hands as members of Christ’s family and offered thanks for one so kind and asked God’s blessing on him and those he loves.

Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit.  It comes from God and shines brightest through His children.100_2761

 

The helping hand

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I notice them gathering even before the sun appears.  The birds.  The hungry, cold birds needing food to give warmth and energy in these below-average temperatures.

bird on rail

Taking courage, I walk out the door to the back deck in my robe and house slippers to spread seed on rails brushed clear of snow,  I can’t even get to the feeder in the yard without donning tall garden boots. They are my only shoes that are higher than the drifts.

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While they scatter at my appearance, the birds return soon.  They are hungry.  They flutter back and forth there all day long. The peaceful mourning dove, the tiny wrens and sparrows, the bright red cardinals, the bossy blue jays.  I am delighted by the sighting of two red-wing blackbirds.  Even the starlings come seeking a little something.

I put out more food late at night for the early birds tomorrow.

I worry about them, yet I remember that God created them to endure with their fluffy feathers (who doesn’t love a down comforter on a cold night).  They sit and eat in their ruffled up way to manage this extreme cold snap we are having in what most call a southern state.

A verse comes to mind.  “[God] provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.”

God provides for all His creatures.  And I put out seed for birds and dress little dog in a sweater and booties to go out so his feet won’t be frosted.

God provides for people.  And I help my neighbor who needs someone to care for her daughter in the early morning hours.

God provides for people we care about.  And I text my friend who had surgery this week, praying for her recovery, like many have done for us.

God provides what we need.  And two sweet daughters-of-my-heart send someone to clear my drive so I am no longer housebound in the deep, deep snow.

God provides shelter and daily bread.  And I have food and warmth and Sweet William is being cared for by medical professionals who know what he needs.

God provides mostly through . . . us.

Because we were never meant to live this beautiful life alone.  Not islands unto ourselves.  No self-made men or women who don’t need anyone else.

God created the earth and all that is in it to work together, to move like a well-oiled machine.  Sun warming earth to bring forth food.  Moon moving tides in and out.  Honey bees taking pollen to flower after flower.  Plants to grow and produce seed that is planted again.

The beauty of it all is just astounding when I think of it.  And that I get to be part of the process is even more amazing.  That the greatest of all, the Ancient of days, the One who is from everlasting to everlasting, who is complete in Himself and has no need of anything, the I AM – He has called me, has called you, to be part of His work.  He invites us to come along beside Him in what He does.

Jesus’ teaching about the Good Samaritan, His admonition for us to love one another, His laying down His very life for mankind is the beautiful demonstration of the hand extended to one’s brother or sister.

We are made for each other.  We’ve been given gifts and talents that are needed by someone else in our little corner of the world.

I love the story of the woman who brought her expensive perfume and poured it out on Jesus.  When criticism arose, Jesus responded lovingly, “She did what she could.”  It was what she had in her hand and she offered it to the One she loved.  She did what she could.

What is in your hand today?  I have bird seed in my hand and a warm sweater and a prayer and a word here and there.  I will do what I can.