Friday, 13 January 2012

The day Jesus kissed my hand

I don’t have a very good memory.  Some days I actually have concern for my lack of memory skills and if it wasn’t for my daughter acting as my vocal to-do list and regular reminder of what it is I am doing, or where it is I am going, I would be lost.
But there are a few moments in time which are etched in my memory, permanent God carved moments.  A reminder for those faithless, dry days, that God's Word is alive and active, that God is in the obscure, the small, the unexpected and isn’t always or mostly in the big and obvious places.
This January freeze we’re having right now, this cold stinging wind, it brings me back to one of these moments and I remember the day Jesus kissed my hand.
It was a January day three or four years ago, much like the ones we’ve had lately, but colder.  So cold.  Sunny January day, the raw wind blowing, biting, cutting, freezing everything in its path rock hard and instantly.
I travelled to the city to bring my daughter to gymnastics training.  After dropping her off I headed to the grocery store downtown – a necessary stop while in the city.  Stepping out of the car, the icy air cut my lungs sharp and I raced toward the store, beaconing in the dim of dusk and offering warmth.
As I approached, my eyes met those of a man sitting on a bench near the store’s entrance.  He was dressed in brown, shabby, dirty clothes ripped and ragged.  His russet and wrinkled hands, clothed in red gloves with cut-off fingers, clung to a jar he was holding out.  His face was weathered and worn and a wiry beard pierced through deep wrinkles and hung, stiff and grey and braided to a point.
As his eyes met mine, shamefully and quietly he asked, “Can you help me ma’am?”.  Shamefully and quickly I mumbled, “Sorry” and lowered my face to my chest as I walked through the doors of the store, relieved by the sudden blast of heat.
Before my shivering body could absorb the warmth, my heart was cut.  That sword.  The one that separates bone from marrow, cut piercingly through my heart - “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. - and stopped me suddenly with a gasp.  Came from nowhere and stopped me cold.  I’d heard the Spirit could do that, but in these infant days of my Christianity, I had never really experienced it.  Until now.
“Oh LORD!”  Forgive me!” I wailed in my thoughts.  “What do you want me to do? I can’t give him money, what if he drinks it away?”  I decided to get him some food.
Hurriedly, I made my way through the store, praying the Lord would keep him there until I could get back out, trying to think of what would be helpful to this man.  Was he homeless?  Did he have a place where he could he prepare food?  Did he have a can opener?  Did he have a knife? Oh the things we take for granted!  I put in the shopping cart bananas, chocolate milk, bread, peanut butter, granola bars, oatmeal cookies, sandwich meats and some other items I thought might be hearty, warming and somewhat healthy.  I grabbed a few necessities for my own house and quickly went to the check-out and made my way outside hoping to see this man again.
He was still there.  Thank you, Lord! I breathed with relief.   As I pushed my cart up to him he gestured me to sit down.  I nervously took the bags of food and placed them on the bench beside him.  He looked confused.
“These are for you”, I said quietly, my voice shaking, afraid of what I do not know, “Food for you.”
My nostrils caught the icy air now filled with the warm sour aroma of alcohol from his breath.  His gentle eyes, they looked deep into mine as he took my hands, cold and exposed in the arctic evening air, and put them between his hands.  “It’s too cold for you to have nothing on your hands.  Do you have any gloves?” were his words to me.
Then he took my hand, brought it to his lips and gently kissed it.  As he did his tired, gentle eyes looked into mine and he said, “May God bless you.”
A moment frozen in time.  Etched, engraved forever into my mind.  My soul, rocked to the core.  Humbled.
Suddenly the air didn’t seem so bitter.  Dazed in unbelief at what just happened, I slowly made my way back to the car.  As I drove away in the January darkness, I glanced at the bench by the store entrance, but I couldn’t see him through the tears that now filled my eyes and poured down my cheeks, thawing my frozen face.
These words of Jesus came to life that day.  These sanctifying words of life burned deep as I saw their truth with my own eyes:
And the King will answer them, “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me.”  Matt. 25:40
May I never forget.  May I never again turn away.

1 Comments:

At 16 January 2012 at 22:04 , Blogger Amy Sullivan said...

Stephanie,
Thanks for leaving the link back at my place. I always love to read stories of how God tosses us out of our comfort zones and into His place of living.

 

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