Yesterday, I took my daughter’s van to the carwash and sat outside on a bench in the muggy weather, since the inside sitting area was closed. After a few minutes, I was joined by another patron at the other end of the bench – social distancing - check - ‘Hey, did that guy just cut in front of you?’ he turned toward me. ‘He did indeed.’
‘Oh well,’ he said, ‘it is kind of a strange time.’ That was the opening I needed.
‘Are you concerned?’ I asked him, (of course referring to our world turned upside down with this virus situation), noting his work uniform, which seemed to identify him as some sort of maintenance man. ‘Yes, sometimes, but no, not really.’
‘I tell you this – it was rather surreal flying across country to get here,’ explaining that I came to see my daughter and four very young grandchildren – also wanting to help her in a tough time. I showed him the pictures of Raleigh-Durham Airport… eerily empty.
‘And when I flew through Baltimore, there were more crew than passengers!’
‘Baltimore? That’s where I’m from,’ he said, ‘but I’m glad to be here now. My wife and me lived in the inner city and it wasn’t safe—crime . . . everybody out for themself.’
‘So, you like it here in North Carolina?’ I asked.
He smiled broadly, ‘oh yes, I love it. Good schools for my kids…’
‘How many kids do you have?’
‘Well, I have two boys, 11 and 12 years old, but . . .’ he hesitated, looked away – then, ‘I have my grandchildren too – 2 and 3 years old.’
‘Oh, my goodness that must be tough,’ I said.
Once again, he seemed to hesitate, and then, ‘Yeah well . . . my daughter was murdered last year, right after I moved here.’
I saw social distancing exit stage left, as i moved over and put my hand on his shoulder. ‘Oh Man . . . I’m so sorry for your loss, so sorry for your pain.’ Here we were – so different in so many ways, the obvious ones right out of the starting gate: black and white, younger and older, east coast and very California …
I asked if I could pray for him, and once he nodded, I grabbed his hands – yes, both of them – and asked God for comfort for my friend's very real, very raw pain, supernatural peace in his grieving heartache, for his provision and more. [Seriously – could I have any thought toward Coronavirus compared to what my new friend is trying to manage?! Twas an instant reality check.
As I drove away, I thought ‘I’ve gotta send out the Words of God; my new friend needs them as never before, and surely the words of God will speak to others too’.
[as an aside, I personally think that instead of calling the Bible the Word of God,
we should call the Bible the Words of God because we would then remember
that the Scripture is God talking to us; it is the very words of God, ‘you know?’]
Opening my Bible, I can’t think of anyone’s words that carry any more weight than our Lord’s thoughts toward us. Jesus delivered these words up around the Northern shore of the beautiful Sea of Galilee, and I can picture that beautiful hillside so easily in my mind’s eye.
Matthew recorded Jesus’ words in what we refer to as Matthew chapter six, starting in verse 25, and I invite you to put your own name in the blanks that I have added:
“That is why I tell you, _(Lisa)_, not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, __(Jeff)____ and your body more than clothing, __(Teri)__? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are, (dear William)? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life, (Cyndi)?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you, Jay Michael. Why do you have so little faith, (John)?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, (Dylan), saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, (Joe).
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, (Megan) and live righteously, (Bruce) and he will give you everything you need, (Jessica).
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, (Eric), for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today, ( Bill ).
Jesus makes it clear in these few words that we are not to worry. Why? God’s got us.
God’s got this.
As for heartache like my carwash friend is experiencing, this I know: God has collected every one of our tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56.8). It is true that not a one of our tears falls to the ground that our tender God does not see.
His message from Heaven to you today:
Do not worry.
I am good;
in fact, I love you.
This is not the end of the story.” Repeat.
I do so love you,
Your Father in Heaven.