Her broom kept time with her limp as she nodded shyly... crazy American tourists getting lost in her quiet alley...
We smiled and nodded back, universal language world over... Good morning, we love your city, thank you for sharing it with us!
Her eyes twinkled as we carefully stepped around her pile of the day's dirt and as I looked back to see her hard at work in her corner of the city, I wondered about her story...
What memories has she stored up under her crown of white,
what joy has she treasured deep in her heart,
what troubles have her work-worn hands smoothed,
and what heartaches hid beneath that limp...
A momentary glimpse and then we were gone. But she stays in my mind...
I will never know her story. But I still see the limp.
And I know that the limp can't be easy. There was another man who walked with a limp til the end of his days. And it wasn't easy. He lived years and years ago, but I find his story lingers on my heart...
His name was Jacob. And he had a twin brother. He was the younger of the two, and as most brothers do, they fought like cats and dogs from the minute they were born. And like many younger brothers, Jacob found ways to aggravate his older sibling...to the point that he eventually found himself running for his life. He had finally pushed all the wrong buttons and this time he truly thought his brother might kill him with his bare hands...
So Jacob ran off into the world, found a job, got married and had babies (lots of babies... 12 sons and 1 daughter!) and after many years he had finally settled down enough to realize he missed his family. And his brother...
Jacob made the decision to go home and reconcile with his brother. But... would it really be that easy? What if his brother was still out for revenge? What if he hadn't mellowed with age, nor had forgotten all of Jacob's "crimes"?
As Jacob traveled the road toward home he worried and stewed over his transgressions. He had lied. He had cheated. His brother had reason to be angry. Perhaps angry enough to kill him, even now.
Jacob was scared and as he sat there that evening on the road home he was tempted to turn back. To run far far away...and yet he knew amends must be made. He was so confused. So unsure. So afraid... He never saw the stranger approaching until it was too late.
And they wrestled. Jacob fighting for his life. Wrestled hard they did. All night long... And some where in the dark, the wrestling changed. The desperation and confusion boiling over, Jacob must have realized he was wrestling with God himself. Now instead of trying to throw off the man, he found himself clinging tight, refusing to let go.
Perhaps Jacob didn't even understand that his cry for help had been answered. The fear, the questions...God understood the agony of his heart and met him there...in the dark...willing to wrestle as long as Jacob needed...
And Jacob, he just refused to let go of God.
The sun came up and still he refused to loose his grip, saying, "I will not let you go until you bless me."
And God touched the socket of Jacob's hip and put it out of joint. And still Jacob clung to Him.
Then God said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have wrestled with God and have overcome." And He blessed him there, with Jacob's hip out of joint, sweaty and weary from the long, dark night of wrestling.
And as the sun rose, Jacob turned his face toward home and his brother, and took his first step on torn hip... limping, dragging, forever marked by his struggle with God, but now covered in Grace and Peace. (Genesis 25-33)
The dark of the night seems to be always the worst. Whether it is a cancer diagnosis, or a disintegrating marriage, or a child ripped from your arms...
In the dark we wrestle. There is no sleep for the troubles that just won't be solved. We want His help. But we don't know how to understand His plan. For cancer or divorce or a lost child are surely not His plan... and we wrestle. Hard. We are Wounded. And in pain. Desperate. Confused. And Afraid.
And sometimes we don't even know we are wrestling with God.
How long do we wrestle before we realize and begin to cling to Him. Praying for that Blessing.
I will not let you go until you bless me...
God will always meet us where we are. In cancer nightmare. Or heartache overwhelming. He is strong enough for our flailings and thrashings. Our fears and our pains.
And He will hold us long thru the dark night...waiting, just waiting for our prayers to turn to Him. Asking for the Blessing. Out of this darkness... Out of this nightmare, Lord bring Blessing.
He will cover us always in His Grace and Peace. He will give strength to walk the journey before us, but we will forever be marked by our struggles. The limp is a daily reminder that we have wrestled with God. And have survived. And begged the blessing...
"The Lord bless you
and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you
and give you Peace."
~ Numbers 6:24-26
And that Jacob? Yes, he met his brother on the road toward home. Limping and fearful still, but now sure of His plan. And somehow completely at peace. Until the moment he saw Esau, he didn't know if his life would be demanded of him that day for justice of sins past...
But the Blessing came in a Big Bear Hug from that brother long-lost, but now forgiving. Joyous reunion. A family restored.
God is so into Grace. And Blessing. No matter how long we wrestle over His plan. He simply longs to hold us close and give us Peace.
I am loving that His Grace covers my limp, for my struggles and my wrestling over mom's pancreatic cancer have forever changed the way I journey through this life. I will never be the same and I'm learning that that's okay in His book.
Sinking into the Peace Granted, Blessing Sweet,