“I sat out most of the night. Lookin’ at the stars and wishin’ somethin’ would show itself. Or some voice would…explain, you know?”
“Jefferson hummed his understanding. “We gots t’wait for that. That’s what hope means. Someday we all gonna understand. Good Book says on that great day the Lord gonna wipe away ever’ tear.”
“But…I want to know now!”
Last year we got up before the crack of dawn, loaded some odds & ends, spread the critters between the car, the pick-up, and the horse trailer, confirmed the vehicle order of our caravan, and then the kiddo and I strapped ourselves in. Everyone else backed out, lined up, and we sat there and bawled like babies. Snot and tears and the whole ugly cry works.
It was our fourth move in two years. At what we thought was the conclusion of our Relocation Saga, we had bought and settled into the perfect ranchola set-up. Ours was a custom-built log home, a lovely yard, a very nice barn, a ginormous shop, fenced pastures, horseback riding trails out the back door, and a community that fit us like a glove. And that’s just what we needed. All of it. Or so we thought.
But God had other plans.
So, that early morning, September 11 of last year, my kiddo and I snotted and gulped until honking horns jolted me enough to slip the gear shifter into reverse and then into drive. And that’s what we did, we drove away from home.
Now here we are, all of us, the three of us, in one house together—that’s something we lacked for a really, really long time. Still, it’s been a year in this new place and the kiddo and I still have empty places in our hearts. Don’t get me wrong, we attend a great home church and have some friends in our general rural community (translation, friends are 30 minutes away), even so, the kiddo and I don’t feel quite right. I wonder if this tension of not belonging or not fitting in just-so has to do with what God leaves out of our hearts so that we will only be able to find total peace in Him.
I think I’m onto somethin’ with that bit o’ wonderment, aye?
Despite what you want or think is best for your own selfish self, you gotta trust God. He ain’t gonna drop ya like a hot potato or a greasy ole pig. He’s got ya just where He wants ya.
Just last week, at the farmer’s market where the son and I help out every Friday for several hours, Bob picked out his ‘maters, handed them to me, and I gently placed them into a paper sack. When he finished, I handed him the bag, he wrapped me in a big bear hug, and slopped an even bigger kiss onto my cheek. He squeezed me hard and said, “Love ya, girl” then he walked off to pay for his produce. Simple as that. I didn’t ask why. I just knew he told Truth.
I wiped the wet off my cheek, but tucked the love of that man into my heart.
I think he had seen the tears in my eyes and heard the sniffling before he even got to the ‘mater box that morning… One of our first customers was a sweet, old man who walks with a cane, wears a hearing aid, pays with senior assistance checks, and usually brings an old gal along with him so she can do her shopping too. I asked him why he never buys corn on the cob and he pulled his teeth back in a grimace of a grin and showed me how he was missing his two bottom teeth. It’s kinda hard to eat corn with this smile.
After I helped him select his produce, I yelled into his ear that I would help him across the park to his car because the bag was heavy. I offered my arm and he laced his soft-skinned fingers tight through my fingers. That surprised me as I was expecting him to grasp my forearm, not my hand the way a sweetheart does. As we walked I asked him about his friend. He told me she was at the doc. Thinks she has cancer. I hate that cancer. Lost my granddaughter. See that stage over there? She used to perform on it in the summertime. And then June 13 my daughter died.
Of this year?
Yes. And ya know that lady I bring? She’s actually my ex-wife. I hold no grudges. She needs help, so I help her.
Tears burn my eyes and I realize I’m squeezing his hand tight enough to bruise his tender skin.
I put the bag on his front seat and he tells me I don’t have no reason for living anymore. I’ve lost the will to live.
I grab the man by his shoulders and I tell him he’s a blessing to me. And I ask if he remembers the boy who helped carry bags last week? And he says he does. I tell him that’s my son. You bless us both. We look forward to seeing you and your friend each Friday morning. You have impacted our lives.
Do you go to church, sir? He says he tries but he can’t hear the pastor and so now he drops off his lady friend and goes home. He tells me he reads the bible every single day but he don’t get why there’s gotta be so much killing and meanness in it. I don’t get a lot of it, but I read it. Every single day I read it.
I wonder if he’s saved. I mean, has he given his life to the Lord, or just read about it?
That ache brings the tear river on full-throttle. I’ve never done it before, but I do it right there, between the park and the highway, and I have to nearly yell because he can’t hear all that good. Folks with bags of corn and arms of fresh-baked bread stare and walk by as I talk to this kind old man about Jesus.
Do you know the Lord? I mean really know the Lord? Sir, you gotta see your sins and know you can’t do anything about them except admit them and give them to Jesus. He wants to carry them. He wants to carry you. Jesus has got you in His big ole hand. His plans don’t always make sense and they hurt a lot, huh?
Just tell Him. Please. And sir, would it be okay if my son and me come and read some Ralph Moody books with you a couple times a month? Can we do that? Could you let us do that? You’d sure be helping us out a lot if you say yes.
He nods yes and smiles and then looks down and cries a little. I don’t know why she left me. She just found someone she thought she liked better. Ya know, a while back she told me she had made a mistake and that she never shoulda left me for that other fella. Nope, I hold no grudges.
Yep. My grandpa never knew the whys of it either.
Sir, you bless me. Don’t you ever forget that. And Jesus loves you. A whole lot. Don’t forget that either.
Thank you. By the way, my name is Sandy. I don’t even know yours and here you’ve been carrying my bags and helping me for weeks.
I’m Darlene, just simply Darlene, sir.
I bawled all the way back to the farm tent and wiped my nose on the underside of my t-shirt. It was then and there that ole mister Bob found me blubbering in the ‘maters when he asked me to help him.
“Too much good all mixed in with the hard. Gotta let your life play out to the end, boy. Be like Jesus. Love folks like Jesus did. Jesus change ever’thing for the whole world, but one person at a time…Who knows” Mebbe jus’ by livin’, keepin’ on, we can make things better, too.”
Everyone else backed out, lined up, and we sat there and bawled like babies. Snot and tears and the whole ugly cry works.
* quotes credit:
Thoene, Bodie, and Brock. Shiloh Autumn. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2006.
* Please, when you ask someone How are you doin’ today? Look the person in the eye and wait, ’cause chances are high that they got somethin’ to say. And what if you prove to be the blessing that makes their day worthwhile or their life worth living? Or vice a versa? And when God’s got ya in a place you just don’t understand, fact remains, He’s still got ya.