I found myself sitting next to an elderly woman. She had on the most BEAUTIFUL orange sweater. (Orange is my favorite color) The extravert in me desperately wanted to comment, but I knew that meant a conversation to follow. I also, didn’t want the receptionist to assume I was happily waiting well past the expectation.
I pick up the newspaper and formally disengaged myself. All of the sudden I heard, “complement her sweater”. My mental response was…”I don’t want to; I want to appear frustrated in hopes of moving up the call list”. “tell her you love her sweater.”
I’ve matured enough to know when I hear or feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit I should comply. So I did. The woman’s response floored me. She said, “OH THANK YOU, I haven’t had a compliment in over 20 years!” I started thinking, what kind of people did she know and how could this be? Was that possible?
Interrupting my mental chatter, she began to go on telling me about her illness. She was carrying a litany of issues, of which placed her in and out of the hospital on a regular basis. She had no family support and said if the doctor admitted her one more time she was going to commit suicide.
Judas Iscariot is one of the biblical character I remember with a recorded suicide case. Most of us know his story of betrayal with Jesus, then overwhelming grief that drove him to take his own life. I’ve wondered what his thoughts were prior to this act. What emotional battle did he wage? I can only imagine he felt, frustration, self hate, insurmountable internal pain and hopelessness. He saw no other alternative.
I was stunned. I thought a moment then immediately started to pray and I asked the Lord to give me something to say, something to encourage her. I had no suicide counseling skills and I needed to act fast…I knew a few scriptures but mostly I knew how to pray. So I asked her if she would allow me to pray for her right there in the waiting room. I picked up the newspaper earlier used as a wall of division to now serve as a partition for peace.
She held one end as I lifted the other. I quietly began to pray hope, encouragement, support and blessing over this woman. I started to speak truth, love I spoke life to her. She was suppose to live and not die. I can barely remember the words I spoke, but I won’t ever forget the sentiments of my heart. With her free hand, she started to wipe the river of tears streaming down her face. She was overwhelmed.
I felt a calm come over us. The peace of God engulfed us in the shadow of those articles. He was there and we both knew it. We talked a little more and she said, I’m going to be alright. I can make it. I agreed and squeezed her hand real tight.
“SHEILA FORD….the doctor will see you now”. For a moment, I didn’t want to leave her. The experience was so surreal. I had briefly forgotten where I was.
It is unreal the number of people that have deep problems and issues. Matthew 9:20-21 (NKJV) reminds me of the woman with the issue of blood. Who encouraged her to keep going? Before she pressed her way toward His hem, she had to push past her pain, oppress her obstacle and destroy her disappointment. Maybe she met someone like me in the town? Maybe a friend encouraged her to hold on. Maybe she was given one more hint of hope. Maybe…someone told her about the love and power of Jesus! I can only imagine.
I never saw that woman again, but I’ll never forget her. She served as a stark reminder of the importance of obeying God’s leading for the purpose of loving and serving others. The power of God changes lives. I’m so glad He can use anything or anyone, even an orange sweater. Can He use you?
Prayer; Father please grant me the ability to see with your eyes and hear with your ears. Help me to release my control and follow your plans and agenda. As I walk this journey as your earthen vessel, allow your Spirit to flow in truth, healing and salvation so you will be glorified. For the sake of Christ Jesus, Amen!
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