FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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She Didn’t Even See Me

I started this morning kinda hard.  Really hard.  As in face down on some cement.  This is how it happened…

I went out early for my morning walk (trying to make at least three miles each day).  On my way to the walking track my feet got tangled in some orange safety netting.  So much for safety because down I went scraping elbows, palms and worse of all, my knees.  Both of them.  You have to know that I am super protective of my knees.  Osteoarthritis has long plagued both, and as I age, it has gotten progressively worse.  Injuring a knee is the LAST thing I want to happen.

Oh well, so much for wanting because I hurt them – scrapes, bruises and swelling.

At this point I wasn’t sure if I was glad or not that no one was around.  My pride was glad that I was alone, but I surely needed some help getting up because I had to kneel on the cement and those injured knees to stand.  More scraping.  More bruising.  And now some blood, sweat and tears.

Nevertheless, I was able to stand and limp back to my car.  I dusted myself off, grabbed some tissues to blot the blood and searched my knapsack for a bandage.  No luck.  I thought I might still be able to walk (I want to get those three miles in!) if I could just get some bandages and maybe some Neosporin and Aleve.  Close to a grocery store, I drove there.  Not open.  Passed two drug stores.  Not open.  Ahhhhhh, a dollar store!  And it was open.

Still early in the morning, there was only one person working in the store and now me.  At this point my knees were swelling and because of the bleeding my pants were sticking to them.  I said, “Good morning, can you tell me where the first aid supplies are?”  The clerk responded, “Huh?”  I said, “Band Aids” to which she replied, “Aisle 12.”  Now hobbling (Is this worse than limping?  It felt worse.), I made it to what I thought was Aisle 12, but I did not see bandages, Neosporin or anything else that looked like a first aid supply except some cotton balls.  Tears welled in my eyes; I was hurting.  I called to the lady, “Maam” (That’s what we say in the South even though I suspect I was twice her age at least.) “Excuse me, but I don’t see any bandages.”  She snapped, “I said Aisle 12; you are on 13!”  As my grandmother used to say, “I don’t know who licked the red off of her candy,” especially so early in the morning, but I just needed some bandages and to elevate and ice these knees.

Over to Aisle 12.  Band Aids, Neosporin and Bacitracin.  Passing by the cooler, I grabbed a bottle of cold water – to drink and to put on these now throbbing knees.  My elbows and palms had begun to burn.  I stopped at the first register to pay.  The clerk walked past me to the third register and yelled, “Down here.”  My Lord, more steps.  And in the wrong direction – away from the door, the parking lot and my car.  By now I am beginning to tremble (don’t know if it was nerves, anxiety or something else).  Trembling and tearing I fumble into my purse to pay.  The clerk takes my money and throws (literally) my stuff in the bag mumbling, “Come again; have a nice day.”

A nice day?!

She never looked up.

She didn’t even see me.

Yes, she saw a woman come into the store.  If I’d committed a crime, she probably would have been able to report accurately to the police that I am Black, heavyset and was wearing black trousers.  She might be able to add that I wore my hair in a ponytail.  Beyond that, she didn’t see me.  She didn’t see ME.  The hobble (or limp).  The tears.  The trembling.  The need for help.  The need for a gentle response.

Rather than be angered, I thought, “How many times have I not seen people?”  How many times have I been guilty of having a conversation (“Come again; have a nice day.”) without really seeing the person (or meaning the words)?

We are commanded to love each other (John 15:12), to lay down our lives (John 15:13), to give (Matthew 5:42) and to look to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4) all so that we might point others to Christ and so that our Father in heaven may be glorified (Matthew 5:16).  We can do none of this if we do not first “see” people.

In my car, crying and bleeding, I prayed, “Father, open my eyes and my heart that I will never pass another person and not “see” them.”  I am grateful to the Lord for this early morning lesson; I just wish I could have gotten it a little less painfully.  😉


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Words and Friends

Remember when you worked up a sweat pulling weeds, so you drank a Coke which made you feel so happy and gay that you forgot about your chores resulting in a smack on the bottom from your momma?  Well, those words – weed, Coke, gay and smack – all have different meanings nowadays.  That’s what happens with a lot of words.  They don’t mean what they used to.

Even the word friend has taken on new layers and levels of meaning.  For a long time friend has meant a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection or a member of the Religious Society of Friends.  Those have been two long-standing, widely-accepted definitions.  Then along came Facebook and talk about friending and unfriending people, many of whom never really knew each other much less shared any bonds of mutual affection.

But Jesus is our Friend. (John 15:15)  Our true friend.  Our unchanging friend.  Our friend through good times and bad.  Our friend who never walks away.  Our friend who sticks closer than a brother.  Our friend who not only would but did lay down His life for us. (John 15:13)

Jesus is not just a friend; He is our best friend.

He accepts us unconditionally.  We can come to Him just as we are with our sin baggage. (Romans 5:8)

He listens to us.  We can share whatever is on our heart and troubling our minds – doubts, questions, tears, joys.  (1 John 5:14-15)

He is always available, and He never abandons us.  He never sleeps or slumbers (Psalm 121:4) and never takes a break (Matthew 28:20b)

He navigates life with us – ALL of life.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  (Hebrews 13:15 b, Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 Chronicles 28:20)

Isn’t this what we want in a friend – acceptance, listening ear, availability, support and encouragement?

Jesus began calling His disciples friends rather than servants because He had entrusted them with everything He had heard from His Father (John 15:15).  Can we truthfully say that we are His friends? Do we trust Him as he has entrusted us?  An Our Daily Bread author asked, “Do we listen to Him? Or do we only want Him to listen to us? Do we want to know what’s on His heart? Or do we only want to tell Him what’s on ours?”

Friendship is a two-way street.  To be a friend of Jesus, we need to accept Him (as our personal Savior and Lord), listen to Him (hear what He wants us to know and do), be available (submit and surrender to His will), support and encourage (the building of His kingdom by sharing His Gospel to bring others into friendship with Him).

As a child my parents used to tell us that “to have a friend you must be a friend” – their variation of Proverbs 18:24.  Like about 99% of what my parents taught us, that is true.  To have Jesus as our friend, we must be His.  And what a friend we have in Jesus!

You might enjoy this history of the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and these renditions of the song: