This is a story God led me to hear yesterday, and I pray it will impact you as it has me. (I have the permission of only the story-teller to share, and pray that the others involved will not mind as I have no idea how to locate them.)
It was nearing the end of the day, and my efforts to contact Denise to request a visit continued to be unsuccessful. She had been on my list to visit for ages, but I admit, it hadn’t happened. I had met her before, in rehab after one of many hospital visits, and knew life was not easy. A few weeks past I had a wonderful visit with her parents in their home, an encounter which was a uniquely unexpected joy. So when another congregant told me she was open to a visit from me, I made her a priority.
As the hours in the day began to close on the deadline to pick-up my daughter from daycare, I decided just to go and find her. Without GPS, I missed up Dr. with Blvd., assuming her home was on a major road…but finally found my way to the assisted living residence tucked on a side street hidden by the almost barren trees.
And there she was, a middle-aged woman holding onto her walker, speaking to the receptionist. We settled into chairs in the dining room, as BINGO numbers were called out in the distance.
We talked and talked. She shared story after story, opening her heart to share her struggles and God’s graciousness. This woman, her body and heart scared with life’s pain, smiled. She has learned that in the midst of her circumstances, God can and does use her for God’s purposes. She has learned to open herself to God, through training, experience, and mostly prayer, to allow God to lead her where she is needed.
Years ago she found herself, legs paralyzed, in a California rehab, half a country away from her family. Despite not knowing if she would ever walk, the staff began to call on her to help with other patients. Her joy and love reached others in ways the therapists, nurses and doctors could not. As one of them, another patient with a precarious present and uncertain future, she could speak honestly and truthfully.
One day the staff asked if she would room with a new patient, a young woman paralyzed from the neck down.
The woman, “Sara”, has been in the backseat of the family car with her 6 month old. She had momentarily taken off her seat belt in order to help the baby, her husband driving and sister-in-law in the front passenger seat. From the other way on the divided-highway, police chased a car going over 100 mph.
The crash left the husband and baby’s father with many broken bones, including both legs and arms. The sister-in-law had scratches and scars, but could walk away. Sara, was paralyzed, and the baby, wonderfully unhurt.
Sara, a new young mother, unable to touch or hold or sooth her baby. A mother, but perhaps in name only.
And in the next bed, is Denise. A woman not much older with paralyzed legs, slowly inching a knee into the air.
“How can you do that?” Sara asked.
“Concentration and prayer. Lots of prayer.”
Denise taught Sara the way of concentration, patience, and prayer. Willing her toes to move, with the help of God, Denise’s toes had moved. She still could not move her legs, but if her toes could move, helping her inch her knee into the air, someday she could walk again.
Sara began to pray and concentrate. She focused her being into one toe, working with God to resurrect her life.
Days and days passed and the roommates prayed and prayed and prayed.
Then during one of Sara’s mother’s visits, Sara asked for their attention.
A woman paralyzed, moved her toe.
Lord, where ever “Sara” is now, we pray for her and her family. Lord, we pray for Denise, that you may continue to use her, but that she may also find relief from her personal concerns. Lord, we also pray for us, that You can help us open ourselves, our lives, to Your Will. Amen.