I didn’t know what to do. It had been a long week and I was discouraged. God had clearly called me to be a part of this literature ministry called CLC and yet I was not completely sure why. I had left the comfort and security of a good paying job, a house that I owned and a church community that I loved. Now I was working as a front line retail clerk, serving customers and wondering if I had made the right decision. On top of all this, nothing seemed to be going right. I didn’t know how to respond to all the needs of people coming through the doors on a daily basis. I had such a desire to see things change and no one seemed to be listening to my ideas. Instead, I was “stuck” at the front counter and was not able to be the change agent God had made me to be.
It was during that week over seventeen years ago that an old woman walked into the store. She came up to the counter, looked me in the eye and asked me how I was doing. I gave her some perfunctory response saying that I was fine and asked her how I could help her. She looked at me again, almost as if she could see right through me and said that she thought I was troubled by something. At that point, I realized that it was no use avoiding the obvious and told her that it had been a long week and I was discouraged. Rather than probe my response, she did the last thing that I expected. In a flash she grabbed my hands that had been resting on the counter and told me she wanted to pray for me. She had moved so fast that I was completely disoriented and said the only thing I could think of – “sure, I would really appreciate that.”
As she began to pray, something seemed to change in the very atmosphere of the store. We were no longer in a place of commerce, but had stepped into a sacred space. She prayed in a way that I was not used to, with an intensity that spoke volumes about her relationship with God. It took me a moment to remember that I was the focus of her prayer and at that point, I simply melted inside. Here I was supposed to be helping her and instead, I was captured in her embrace and overwhelmed by her concern. God had sent her to me when I was least expecting it and yet needed it the most.
In my desire to be an agent of change, I had overlooked a key reality – God needed to change me before I could be used to change anything around me. Rather than being able to rely on my knowledge or ability, I was thrown into a circumstance that highlighted my ignorance and limitations. I was right where he wanted me. As this wonderful woman released my hands and told me she would continue to keep me in her prayers, I knew something had changed. My insufficiency would be made whole in His complete sufficiency. God wanted to use my weakness so that only He would get all the glory. He was in charge and would provide all that I needed on the journey He was about to take me on.
As the years progressed and I dealt with problems that seemed so intractable, people that were sometimes hostile and circumstances that seemed impossible, this lesson stuck. It was amazing how often that it was not my wisdom or brilliant insight that made the difference. More often than not, someone else had the answer and I simply needed to listen.
Vulnerability is not a core value in our culture and yet it is at the heart of how God works. It took an old women stepping into my comfort zone and invading my “personal space” to teach me the power of touch combined with prayer. I began to understand the power of “touching and agreeing”. Only out of a posture of true humility and authenticity does God really get all the glory. God is a God of embrace and I am so glad He sent His angel to grab my hands that day.