Sunday, August 24, 2008
I love benches. Especially small ones that only two or three people can sit on. So much communication can happen when you sit on a bench. I think God created benches. I know that man created them, but I think that if you ask the Lord for opportunities to minister - a lot can happen on a bench.
I had the opportunity to sit on a bench this past week and it was awesome. People walk by and smile. Some people sit for a second, shift their feet and then get up. Some people won't sit on a bench when someone else is sitting there, even if there is enough room. When someone sits down, it is fascinating to watch their body language. How are their legs crossed? Are their arms crossed? Are they looking in the complete opposite direction or are you sharing the same view? When I was in college (oooh--22 years ago-UGH), I took a communications class and we talked about non-verbal communication. So I am very aware of how my body communicates. So here I sit on the end of this bench with my legs crossed in the direction of the other end of the bench (in so letting someone know I am open and willing to receive communication). A few people sat next to me on this bench in the short time I was there. It was a small bench so you could only really sit two people comfortably. I had a conversation with each one, but this one touched me the most.
It was an elderly woman holding a 5 month old baby who took the seat next to me. I told her how adorable that little cherub was and asked if it was her granddaughter. She said, no, it was her "great granddaughter". I smiled and told her congratulations. I said that I think is such a rare blessing for children to get to know their "great grandparents" and that my children get to live with their "great grandfather" and it is sure a treat for them. She shook her head as she spoke and she said that the circumstances surrounding the conception and birth of this baby was not so good. She proceeded to tell me that his child was the child of her very young teenage grand daughter. Her granddaughter was indeed a child herself. She went into the details of her granddaughter's story and how painful it was for their entire family. As she spoke, I could see some of the shame seeping out. Times are different now. It is hard to be a teenager these days. She said that her granddaughter knew Jesus as her Savior, but....and her voice got lost as she placed her lips on the head of the baby she was holding. This woman proceeded to tell me that she had lived a long life, enduring many of life's struggles, including one of surviving cancer, yet this family circumstance was more difficult to bear in some respects.
I told her that I would not want to be a teenager in today's world. The spirit and the flesh are in constant battle. The enemy of our souls is constantly on the prowl, seeking whom he may devour. I reminded this woman whom, it was clear that she was a strong believer, that even Paul struggled with his flesh. Paul said, in Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Don't you just love Paul. He makes you feel "all better" -- this is not something new! The woman gently nodded her head. I reminded her again of how big Jesus' hands are and that even though 6 years had passed since her granddaughter gave her heart to Jesus, and a lot (this baby included) has happened in the 6 years, that the Lord still has both of these children in his hands. She may have wandered, but the most important thing now is to demonstrate God's love to her.
As I sat there it dawned on me that at this moment, demonstrated grace was far more effective than judgment would ever be. (So of course while we spoke I mentioned this.) She explained that that was indeed how this family was handling it. Full of grace. This little baby is so loved and her young Mommy is a wonderful, responsible Mommy who is also loved. I gave this woman a hug and told her that I was so blessed to share this bench with her, and as we hugged, her hug spoke to me as she held on a little longer. She encouraged me, to see the faith and love of a family always ministers to me, and I am guessing by that hug, that the Lord encouraged her too. I love to sit on benches. You might give it a try and just see what happens.