At the supermarket today I actually stopped and watched a lady walk by. Usually I\’m at full tilt, in task mode, at Cub Foods and \”see\” no one. If a friend walked by, chances are high I wouldn\’t realize it. I used to be more aware of my surroundings when younger but then life got busy and I have trained myself well to just pound through the grocery list without pause.
She was in her mid fifties, over treated black hair, thick black eyeliner, long black coat, black pants, black shoes, black, black, black… A pronounced limp was hard to miss, even for me, and she sauntered at a slow pace, up and down, up and down again, around the corner. A heaviness accompanied her–not a physical one, but a spiritual one. Although I didn\’t see any grocery item in her hand, nor did she push a cart, she carried a burden, a burden that probably pronounced that limp. \”How did she come to this?\” I wondered. As I asked that question, the answer seemed to surface. She did it to herself–she had lived a life that was echoed in her gait, in her spiritual state. I felt sad and said a prayer for her, not feeling compelled to do more. Then the baking aisle beckoned before me and off I went. If I saw her again, I don\’t recall.
On the way home, I asked God about today\’s blog–\”What\’ll it be, my Friend?\” I heard the same thing I\’d heard this a.m. but never got around to–read the Advent devotional I plucked from church a week ago. \”Alright, alright I hear Ya, will do already!\” After heaving grocery bags (one bursting all over the garage floor) while chatting with Charlie (our college freshman) and Emily (our sixteen year old) on the phone, and tucking away $200 worth of food items, I sat down with the devotional. Today\’s Scripture reading is Isaiah 35, so I pulled it up on the computer and sat for a listen. These words caught my attention
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
\”Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.\”
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6a Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Well, potent words there, from our dear Lord through Isaiah. What do I hear in this passage, linked with the grocery store lady? I hear that we\’re here to help those who\’ve crippled their lives, who\’ve painted advanced years on their faces, who\’ve remain shrouded in darkness and cannot see or hear their Maker. How do we help? Verse 4 exhorts us to tell them to \”be strong, do not fear\”. Is this a shame thing? Are they being chastised for being afraid? No, don\’t hear that…I think what is being said is that we (they and us) don\’t have to allow fear in, that we can choose to choose God and stand face full toward Him and trust He will come and save us from the dark entities and dark places within us that have deformed our lives.
Verse 6 assures us that He is the great Healer. Even we who limp and carry self inflicted heavy burdens are restored to health if we turn and invite God to save us. And did you catch the end there? We aren\’t just restored, we\’re full of leaps and shouts of joy. New vigor, new life, fresh air, wide awake.
I think again of the grocery store lady…will she ever know, will she ever be free, will she always carry that burden, will she never run again? Oh dear Lord, please reach her, let her breathe, let her live again.