Note: I posted this a week ago, then the Lord burdened my heart with this passage and I took it down. Today our family participated in Elder’s Prayer and when they were praying for me I felt released to repost it. Isaiah 58:1 flooded my mind, along with Proverbs 31:8
“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet…” (Isaiah 58:1)
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8)
I eagerly drove off…. it had been a long two days, helping a friend with a yard sale, juggling five kids, trying to put my home back in order after the rush of the week and the un-tended to chores that had piled up during the rush, and also the planning for the open house we’re having next week as a testimony of God’s faithfulness to provide our needs in light of the mold crisis loomed over my head. The kids were in bed, Danny was hanging out with a friend at home, and I was going to get my coveted alone time-catch up on emails, write, and read. So I swing by the local QT gas station to grab a cup of coffee, and the minute I pulled up, I knew this wasn’t going to be a quick trip.
I saw her, bare legged, pulling herself around in the wheelchair, talking, or at least trying to talk to anyone who walked by. “I’ll buy her a sandwich and pray with her, and then I’ll be on my way” I think. I get out of my car into the cold night air and she wheels towards me and shouts a cheerful “Good Morning!” (It was 9 pm) I tell her “Thank you, but its actually night right now.” I go to open the door for her and then I realized….it wasn’t just her legs that were bare, it was her waste down that was. ”Um, are you going in here? ” I ask, “because you don’t have any pants on”. She stops her chatter about car batteries, and pestering landlords, and cans of whip cream and says “Oh, I have shorts on….” and she looks down and then quickly covers herself with her jacket.
My mind starts working on how I can get some pants that will fit her, while she wheels herself over to chatter to the next QT customer, not asking for money, but not talking sense either. She seemed busy talking to everyone in the store so I got my coffee and went to leave but as I hopped back in the car, I heard some men, who seemed like they were familiar with seeing her around, talking about how she came out with no pants on this time. I got back out of my car after the “how involved do I get” pause, and went up to them and asked what they knew about her.
A resident of the Extended Stay (the government pays them to house homeless and mentally ill people) right behind the QT gas station. Crazy. Comes down to the QT a lot. I told them I was going to go get her some pants, and the one smoking the cigarette nodded a knowing look…”that’s really kind of you ma’m”.
“Well, even if she’s crazy, she’s still made in the image of God and deserves to have dignity. I’m gonna go help her claim some back.”
I hopped into the car, and ran over to my neighbor’s house and explained the situation, and she supplied some sweatpants and a sweatshirt for her. and I ran back to the QT,clothing in hand. Ironically, my QT (Quiet Time) was trickling the drain, but somehow I felt closer to Jesus doing what He does than if I had been just reading about what He does. I wasn’t studying Him, I was infilled with Him. And I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else . On my short drive back and forth to QT this story kept running through my mind.
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.[a] 2 And when Jesus[b] had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him,“What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed[c]man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus[d] to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
That crazy lady, the one that it is easier to laugh at or ignore or try to “chain” with our modern version of restraint-various prescriptions of pills (which I saw all strewn about her little motel room when I brought her back home later), that crazy lady is human flesh, still with the imprint of God on her. Made in His image. Still worth the precious blood of Jesus which He willingly shed so that screwed up people like her, and me, could be saved to know Him. She was still capable of being emptied of all demonic forces that sent her mind, and body, reeling around in a fantasy world. She was still capable of being clothed and in her right mind. That demoniac who lived among the tombs, he was worth Jesus’ time. And if so, this crazy lady was worth mine.
Forty five minutes later, after a round-about time of try to get her to put pants on in the public restroom (and me ending up putting them on for her), and the QT staff asking me to push her back up to her room in the Extended Stay or else they would have to call the cops to come get her to take her back, and me praying over her and us, as I pushed her amongst her modern day “tombs”, rows of rooms housing other down and out, unwanted people in society, and finding her room door wide open, with trash, clothes, shoes, food and boxes streaming out of it onto the sidewalk and street, then finding those useless chains that she, just like the demoniac, always broke free from, those chains that never could restrain her either. Those empty bottles of pills…there must have been twenty of them all strewn around her disaster of a room, they were her “shackles broken in pieces. None had the strength to subdue her. ” And I prayed over her, and I spoke the dignity of the Creator of the Universe over her, and I claimed the precious blood of Jesus shed for her to set her free, to clean her out, starting on the inside so that the Holy One could live within her, and as I prayed and poured out my heart to the Father, she did a funny thing, an honoring thing,
she started bending over,
right there in her wheelchair.
She bent over in a way she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) when we were trying to get her pants on. My heart cries trailed off….”Patricia, what are you doing?”
“Oh, I”m just bowing while you pray….”.
And when I was finished praying, her back wasn’t healed, she wasn’t ready to enter regular society, and everything she said didn’t make sense quite yet but there was something in her eyes…like a little eager girl.
And I looked into those eager eyes, and said “Patricia, God loves you, He really loves you.”
And she took my hand, all cold from the night air, and started patting her face with it.
“Yes! He does. I know. He loves all the little children. Amen!”
And I told her I would come back. And bring her a Bible. And in my heart I coveted a Sprinter, so that I could load her up the next morning, her and all her neighbors in that Extended Stay, and bring them all to church with me.
But in the meantime, I strolled back to my car, under the night sky, singing boldly and loudly,
‘Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world.
Red, and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Jesus died for all His children, all His children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world. “
And the others, loitering around that Extended Stay probably thought I had caught some of her crazies.
But I had really caught Jesus.
And when I came around the corner to my car, that man with the cigarette was there again. And he said, “what you did tonight was really good. Most people laugh at me ‘cuz I’m homeless, and they make fun of her because she’s crazy. But what you did was really nice. Thank you. “
And I told him, what I had been thinking in my heart.
“It wasn’t me, sir. It was Jesus, He lives, you know. He lives in His people. It’s all Him that does stuff like this. All Him”
And I found where Jesus is.
He’s IN us. As we move AMONG them.
the ones that don’t have it all together,
and know it.
He always shows up in those places.
And if we make ourselves available to Him,