I was a young Christian just beginning to serve the church. I had just finished teaching my preschool Sunday School class when I saw the commotion. I went back inside my room because I knew who this child was and what was going on. I knew that she experienced seizures frequently and that her mother was used to handling them.
My co-teacher, Jenny, had already raced to her aid. Jenny was one of those friends who always seemed more capable than myself. I was often amazed but also a bit fearful around her as she was highly confident. The fear came from the fact that, in her own confidence, she could assume that the other person was just as confident. She could innocently draw one into her own confident world. I was fearful of that. She was also a mother of four and thus had much experience serving and caring for people. She could handle any incident in which a person needed care with ease it seemed.
I had planned on going home to make a nice meal for myself, so, in my selfishness and fearfulness, I excused myself and dismissed getting involved. I quickly thought of some extra things I could do to clean up my classroom before walking past them to leave.
As I busied myself I thought about the child. It was Cindy. I had heard her name many times from a friend who helped her through the special needs ministry in our church. Until now, I had never seen her outside of her wheelchair. I knew she was unable to use her arms, hands and legs. My friend had been trying to talk me into babysitting her in order to bless her mother with a much needed rest. I had said I would but hoped in my heart it would not happen. I didn’t feel capable. Now I was to be face to face with her and this is how God introduced us.
After enough time had passed that I felt it was safe to leave the room, I gathered my things and walked toward the door. I assumed things were resolved in the hallway. My mind was whirling with comforting thoughts about the meal I had planned for myself once I got home. These thoughts were interrupted by tears stinging my eyes and conviction as the Holy Spirit tugged at my heart. It came to mind that she would never have the simple privilege of making a meal for herself. I was saddened, but soon dispensed the thought as I assumed there had been resolution outside. I was hungry and it had been a long morning serving the church. So I walked out the door ready to forget everything.
I saw her little legs and feet lying still near the front of my door. They looked like a doll’s legs, very tiny and thin, well dressed in tights and little black patent leather shoes. Relieved to see that the seizure was over, I whispered to Jenny, “Is everything OK?” She said, “Yes”. I looked at the little girl’s face and she looked exhausted. Her eyes were drooping and she was panting like an animal pants for water. She didn’t look alright. But they said everything was and who was I to be nosy? So I nodded and walked away. “Good”, I thought, “everything is fine and I can feel good about leaving.” I knew I wasn’t responding with the Holy Spirit, though. I knew I should’ve asked if I could help.
Just as I was assuring myself that there was nothing else I could do, Jenny said my name. I turned around as she asked if I could help keep the child calm while the mother went to get the car. They wanted two people there in case something happened. “Ugh…no problem”, I replied. Inside though, I was afraid of her having another seizure. At this point, I was also beginning to sense that God was working on my heart through this situation and I wanted to flee.
Jenny sat on one side of the frail body and I sat on the other. We each had our hands on her. Jenny, of course, was not afraid to comfort her. The mother-of-four understanding of how to care oozed from her. I was an amateur. She was freely running her fingers through her hair…gentle and unreserved with her. I was stiff. I wondered as I sat next to this child how awesome it would be if she could really feel God’s love through my touch. I imagined how sweet it would be if God would heal her as I put my hands on her. Everything in me suddenly wanted to be able to do that for her.
I couldn’t resist anymore. I ran my hand through her hair too…trying to imitate Jenny. I could tell it was refreshing to her and I did it again. I allowed myself to touch her face. After several attempts to run away, now I wanted to comfort her. Each minute that I spent with Cindy, I could feel more and more walls crumbling in my heart. She turned on her side towards me and looked me in the eyes. I couldn’t believe it. This little girl actually wanted me to comfort her! Her eyes told me not to stop. She was tired and still breathing heavy. I wondered what she would say if she could speak. I wondered what I would say if my comfort and safety relied on two strangers kneeling on each side of me. I felt deep compassion for her lack of ability to express anything except to turn toward me in her pain and maybe even embarrassment.
At that moment, I thought of how much I wanted to become like her – vulnerable, trusting, dependent. A beautiful picture of a child of God.
This experience is from my journal dating back almost fifteen years ago. I still go back to it and read it once in a while. It was one of the first experiences I thought deeply on and wrote about as I was growing in the Lord. I think the things the Lord worked on me about that day are things He’s still working on me about today.
He still wants me to remember that He delights in caring for and showing compassion toward His children.
If I a mere human made by God, can feel compassion for this child, how much more then does he have and freely show deep compassion on us! If I, his servant, scared of a child’s seizures, running away from the hurting, and having to be coaxed into helping, wanted so badly to heal Cindy (eventually), how much more must he want to heal me. If I thought “How awsome it would be to heal her”, how much more must God rejoice in the actual act of doing it.
He still longs for me, His child, to want his care and to be vulnerable before him.
I must be dependent in order to receive God’s love.
I often forget my need for God for physical things. This leads to forgetting my need for him spiritually. But God doesn’t just loves us in a general sense, He longs for us to allow Him to care for us individually and completely for everything. He wants a dependent relationship with us. I want to respond to that, want it, allow it, receive it and enjoy it. I don’t want to put up walls when he’s trying to love me. I want to come before him thirsting for his comfort.
He delights in me, His child, wanting his care and my being vulnerable before him.
How He must be moved when we come before him allowing him to see us and know us fully, just as I was moved when Cindy turned toward me and looked at me with her deep trusting eyes. How He must truly rejoice over us when we allow our hearts to be wide open before him clinging to him, hoping in him, so thankful for him.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
As I’ve looked back on this story over the years, I’ve always focused in on what God did in my heart in regards to wanting to respond like Cindy to Him and about how He cares for me. Today, as I look at this story, I am seeing something new. How God works in our lives…even pursues us…by His Spirit and through people to change us and heal us spiritually. There was so much healing and heart-changing that needed to be done in my life at that time. It was hard work for me to love people in my brokenness. Even though I’ve had many life experiences serving and loving people now and I’ve been healed dramatically since then…it’s still hard to love people in a Christ-like way all of the time. It’s especially hard to do it when I go about it responding in my own flesh. But I see something play out in this story that I like. I see the Holy Spirit wooing a woman to not live out of her flesh. I see Him moving her away from her selfishness and a woman finally yielding to the Spirit.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galations 5:25).
This has been the story of my walk with Christ…His call to me throughout my life.
I am so thankful that He did it that day and that I see Him still doing it now. My prayer is that I become more and more aware of and quicker at yielding to the Spirit and slower at responding to my fleshly impulses and motives.
Back then I thought a lot about how I needed to be acting as a child of God. I put a lot of fleshly energy into doing things that I thought a child of God should be doing.
More and more I think of how a child of God should be responding. More often than not…for everyday life…that response is for ME to do nothing. To simply stop what I’M doing and allow Christ to come through.
As I think back now on when a man, perhaps her dad, came to help pick Cindy up to carry her to the car…a song comes to mind as I remember him walking away with her in his arms. Child of God by Kathryn Scott……
With every breath, with every thought
From what is seen to the deepest part
I offer all that I’ve come to be
To know your love fathering me
Father you’re all I need
My soul’s sufficiency
My strength when I am weak
The love that carries me
Your arms enfold me, till I am only
A child of God
With every step on this journey’s walk
And wisdom’s songs that the soul has sought
I give myself unreservedly
To know your love fathering me
This picture was taken from Google images. Artist unknown.
The names in this story are not the actual names of people involved.
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