I’m a newbie volunteer to a local ministry that serves as a conduit for food, clothing, personal items and other various basic living items to the poor and the outcast in downtown Anderson. On Tuesday afternoons, the ministry opens its doors and a hundred or so forgotten members of society come into the donation center and have access to clothing, shoes, toys, and a freshly prepared meal. As a newbie, I am still in the “what am I supposed to do?” stage.
I’m looking around, literally wondering what I’m supposed to be doing. The initial rush of guests had slowed and I notice an elderly gentleman sitting alone, with no items that he has chosen to take home and no food. It’s a hot day; surely he could use an ice-cold bottle of water. So I sit down next to him and, trying not to feel guilty for sitting, I began to ask if he wanted anything to eat or perhaps water. He quietly comments that he will probably take a bottle of water with him when he leaves. He had me to try to guess his age and I learned he is in his mid 80’s. He shares a few secrets with me on how to stay young and how to stay out of trouble. We share a few laughs. I asked him his name and he asks mine. After learning my name is Debbie, he tells me has a daughter named Debbie. So I asked if his daughter lived here in Anderson. “Oh nooooo, she’s passed on.” He shares this quietly and peacefully. He then introduced me to his friend. There is obviously a strong bond of affection between this man and woman. They seemed quite contented and happy with each other.
Our conversation was cut short when I noticed another elderly lady, alone and trying to juggle her bag of clothes, food and soda. So I say a few parting comments to the lovebirds and let the woman have the seat I had occupied. I’m looking around, literally wondering what I’m supposed to be doing.
My eyes are immediately drawn to a very tall, elderly person. At this point, I am uncertain if the person is a male or female. I did notice, however, that she is having great difficulty walking and is using a short piece of crown molding as a cane. Both ends of the molding have a cut mitered edge. One pointed edge is pressing into the floor as she walks; the opposite pointed edge is pressing into the palm of her hand. There is a small step down that she is trying to tackle. My heart is exploding inside me for I can feel her struggle and I can imagine how incredibly challenging it is use a piece of crown molding as a cane.
Without thinking, I walked over to her and asked, “Ma’am, would you like to have a cane like this?” She immediately responded affirmatively and showed to me the palm of her hand where the pointed end of the crown molding was digging into her flesh. She had a piece of tape on her hand, trying to soften the impact. I helped adjust my cane to the length that would accommodate her. In a state of shock I walked away from her, trying to remind myself to simply breath. At this point, she shuffled past me on the way to the shoes. I looked down at the shoes she had on. The shoes were enormously too big for her. She displayed a torsional deformity with her toes pointing out, almost in opposite directions. I hoped that we had a better fitting pair of shoes for her in the back and asked one of the more experienced volunteers to help her. I waddled upstairs and into the bathroom to finish shedding the tears that by this time were flooding down my face.
Finally when I had somewhat regained my composure, I reappeared back onto the ministry floor to find a staff member sharing with her that God wants to have a relationship with her. As she is walking away with a new pair of shoes and a new cane, she tells me that her name is Elaine.
How long Elaine has had to walk with the support of crown molding, I have no clue. But I do know that she walked out with more support and stability than she walked in.
How long you and I walk with the support of something less than what is really needed is just as big a heartbreaking circumstance for Almighty God and loving Father to witness. Just as you and I view a disabled person struggling to carry out the simplest task in life, so the Father sees us all.
Crippled. Twisted. Hurting. Needy.
What do you need from Him so that you can walk with power, with stability and unhindered by the obstacles of life? What have we been holding onto, like the lady with crown molding, trying to hobble along as best we can when the Great Physician has what we need?
Go to http://www.thelotproject.com/ and get involved in the ministry of serving the poor and homeless.