I’m discovering that God doesn’t speak in the way I expect or through those whom I expect. That isn’t to say that those nearest and dearest to me don’t bring edifying words when I’m down, but God has His own way of really getting my attention, to let me know He’s there.
It’s a sunny day outside the nursing home where I work, but inside, it’s raining. Millie is crying again, having learned for the umpteenth time that day that her mother is dead. Like some twisted version of the movie, Groundhog Day, she learns this piece of information daily and grieves afresh daily. Millie is in her eighties and her mother has been dead for years.
Feeling a little crappy myself, I veer off my normal job description. My mandate in the Home is to provide physical exercise, restore residents in areas of their activities of daily living. I had long-decided that restorative care includes restoring joy and peace, so I take Millie outside for a change of scenery. I hold her hand as I listen to her cry yet again over her loss. My shirt is already covered in snot from her crying on my shoulder. I don’t care. It’s just been that kind of day. We find an unoccupied bench outside sheltered from the direct sunlight. Her tears have subsided for the time being and we’re both just sitting there in silence, each of us with our own thoughts, mine swirling between self-doubt and waiting for fresh revelation in a life that seems void of purpose of late.
Millie breaks the silence, ” Jesus loves you, you know that?”
I just look at her and feel my own eyes fill up with tears. Isn’t it just like God to use the foolish things of life to confound those who are wise in their own estimation? Millie isn’t foolish, not by any means, but as her brain cells atrophy from the dementia, it is a rare moment to get such a profound statement. I don’t even know what her faith life was like before her illness. Truly deep calls out to deep. I hug her and tell her that was the best news I’d heard all day.
There’s something about God speaking to you in this manner that makes you more aware of Him. Just when you think He’s not listening, that He’s not even aware of what you’re feeling or going through, He sends someone who, on a good day, can’t even string a few words to form a sentence, to hit your reset button and remind you that it’s going to be okay.
I love spending quiet time with God and to read the Word, but to be honest, Jeremiah 29:11 has been getting a little wearisome. I know God has a plan for me; for my good and not harm, I get that. And I know that God knows my heart, so I also know that I’m not shocking Him with my meh attitude here. I am no surprise to God. He knew what He was getting when He created me. I talk to God like I would talk to a friend–He is my Friend. So when I tell Him that a particular situation sucks, or ask Him when He’s going to get a move-on in a certain circumstance, I am not afraid of, nor anticipating His disapproval. He knows it often takes more than a scripture or a well-meaning sister/brother in the Lord to give my head a shake, so when God does finally decide to speak to me, even reveal Himself to me in unconventional ways, I am all ears. For whatever reason, God chooses to use those with limited mental capacity to speak to me. Maybe it’s His way of saying, ‘Get out of your head, Monica.’
You’ve already met Millie. Let me introduce Jordan, another unsuspecting spokesperson for God.
I meet Jordan at the grocery store (seems to be where God likes to show up). Jordan sits on the sidewalk by the grocery carts with most of his belongings. I spot him one day as I’m doing my sporadic grocery shopping. Unlike Elizabeth from All Who are Hungry, I have no expectations nor ambitions of what our interaction will be like. I make my purchases with no sense of urgency and head back to my car to place the bags in my trunk. Jordan is still sitting on the sidewalk when I approach him. I ask if the piece of sidewalk next to him is taken. He laughs and assures me it’s free and invites me to cop a squat by patting the cement beside him. Jordan is intellectually challenged, I learn, and in some way, it’s a blessing. He’s so innocent and carefree; it’s nice to not have to carry on a in-depth conversation . I ask what he’s doing, just sitting there.
‘Mooooney,” he says in a sing-song voice without looking at me.
“But you’re not even asking people for any. Are you just relying on your good looks to get people to come to you?”
“Yup,” he giggles, covering his mouth.
Jordan is dirty and he smells, but sitting there on the sidewalk beside him is the most liberating thing I’ve done in a while. For a pocket full of change and a promised bottle of fruit punch, I have the pleasure of experiencing the life of Jesus for a short time. No, I’m not exulting or elevating myself to Jesus Christ Superstar fame, it’s just that I get a sense of how it feels to just go low, to sit and listen to people for whom no one else will take the time. I tell him about Jesus and share the gospel in much the same way you would a five-year old. People walk by giving me odd stares. I just smile and wave. I don’t care. This is the real deal. In this moment, Jordan is Jesus and I am too:
Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?…And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.” (Matthew 25:44-45)
For this moment, all is well in my world. My cares and concerns disappear, and things are put in perspective. Hanging out with Jordan, smelly and all, is heaven on earth.
Yes and amen.