Reverb #19-Healing

Dec. 19. Prompt. Healing: What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

As far as physical health goes, I’m grateful that I haven’t been seriously ill or sustained any major injuries this year. In terms of mental well-being (i.e. anxiety and depression), I take 300 mg of Effexor and see a pastoral counselor in Decatur of which I’m also thankful.

Regarding spiritual healing, it’s day to day or “drip-by-drip evolution.”  There by the grace of God I go by.  I’m being healed, transformed, shaped, reformed, redeemed constantly by the Creator of the universe.  I certainly have bad days. I definitely make mistakes. And I do hurt other people’s feelings, intentionally or not. And yet, there is God’s grace and love picking me up, dusting me off and sending me on my way again…toward hope.

There have been, are and will be moments (as is the nature of my profession) where my heart breaks for the pain and suffering I see others endure.  And yet, there is God’s grace and love stooping down to pick up the broken pieces to fashion them into something whole and new.

On Thursday evening, as several church volunteers and I were setting up the Rainbow Village Holiday Store (where 9 single moms get an opportunity to “shop” for their children and families from an assortment of items in Fellowship Hall and receive a box of food and special wrapped gifts), an unshaven and weary-looking man in his late 30s-early 40s walked into the building. He asked to speak to a pastor and so I stepped into the hallway with him to talk.  The man explained that an accidental fire in their home less than a month ago claimed the life of his 4-year-old son and forced him, his wife and their 7-year-old daughter into homelessness.  Unable to find a job much less a place to live, the man told me they were temporarily staying with friends until they could figure out their next steps.  “My truck is running on fumes. It’s been sitting on empty for almost two days. We don’t have any food to eat and it breaks my heart that I won’t be able to give my daughter something on Christmas.”

We talked a while and then I invited him to sit down in one of the chairs in the church’s lobby/coffee area (where members congregate on Sunday mornings between Sunday School and the worship service) while I grabbed a couple of Kroger grocery cards (that we keep in the office for emergency situations such as this) to give to him for gas and a few food staples.  I then told him about the Rainbow Village Holiday Store, and that I thought I could scrape up some food for him to take to his family. I went back into Fellowship Hall where some volunteers were sorting out canned goods for Rainbow Village families, and without saying a word, I grabbed a bag and filled it with beans, peanut butter, fruit, rice and so on.  I brought the bag to the man and asked him if he’d like to come in Fellowship Hall and pick out one or two toys for his 7-year-old daughter (knowing there was plenty of toys to share). I helped him pick out a Hello Kitty notebook and an accessorized doll, which made the father smile because his girl had lost all of her toys and so much more in the fire.

While I was helping the dad choose the toys, one of the church volunteers (who intuitively knew what was happening ) brought me a recyclable grocery bag for the toys.  In a matter of seconds, the man, choking back tears, thanked me for the food and toys and wished me a Merry Christmas. I told him that I was sorry for his loss and everything that had happened to him and his family and that I would pray that he and his family would have a nice Christmas and be able to get back on their feet.

After the man left, I went back to setting up the Rainbow Village Holiday Store. The event started a couple of hours later and it was a joy to see the bright smiles on the faces of the single moms as they picked out gifts that they would take home to wrap for their children. Even more beautiful was seeing the exuberant faces of the volunteers (from the church, Rainbow Village staff and greater Atlanta community) who laughed and talked with the moms while serving as their personal shopping assistants or while wrapping their gifts or while loading their cars with packages and food.

God’s grace and love binding the broken pieces together.

It happens every day if we have eyes to see.  This morning I witnessed God’s grace and love in the simple and compassionate act of one of the High School seniors. With a concerned and almost sad look on her face, the youth came straight up to me, put a hand on my shoulder and asked, “When are you leaving?”

I replied, “We go to Cleveland this Wednesday to visit with Elizabeth’s dad and we’ll be gone until the Tuesday or Wednesday after Christmas.”

A sudden realization struck the youth who then asked, “So will you be able to come tonight (to the HS Christmas Progressive Dinner)?”

“Yes! And I have a very tacky Christmas shirt to wear!” I said enthusiastically.

“Yeah!” the youth said and gave me a hug, the kind of hug that not only conveyed that she was glad that I was coming to the party but also that she loved, cared and prayed for me, Elizabeth and our family during what has been a difficult time in the past few weeks.

God’s grace and love. Healing that comes in small ways and small packages but that makes a huge and everlasting impact on our lives and the world.

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