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Tinsel sparkled and glittering decorations and tinkling bells transformed the Brazilian shopping mall into a Christmas fairyland. The cacophony of many shoppers’voices competed with the loud blast of carol after carol through the loudspeakers. My daughter had dropped me off at the mall to do my shopping. She couldn’t stay with me because she had business in a nearby town. Since she wouldn’t be back home for several hours, the plan was for me to take a taxi when I finished.
Up and down the escalators, climbing stairs to find the shop I wanted, for several hours I ticked off item after item on my shopping list,. Suddenly I didn’t feel good and I was scared. I realized I was in trouble. For months I had often felt that same way and with no further warning, had fainted and landed on the floor. Twice I had hit my head so badly I had cut it open. Another fall had caused a goose egg so large I ended in the hospital. The doctors hadn’t been able to find the reason for the trouble. My only warning had been sudden weakness—which I could feel coming on now! I could visualize the scenario now, fainting here alone in this strange city of Curitiba. No identification on me would link me to my daughter’s house. Where would I end up?
I headed downstairs, clinging tightly to the railing. When I got to the main floor I knew I needed to sit down—soon. A saleslady was selling encyclopedia sets near the exit and I plopped down on one of the chairs there. She looked startled. I explained to her that I didn’t feel well. But in spite of her kindness, I knew I couldn’t take away her possibility of a sale by sitting where a potential buyer might sit, so after a few minutes I steadied myself by clutching the small table and stood up, still feeling weak and disoriented.
The closest exit was about twenty feet away and I hobbled toward it. Outside I leaned against a planter box and breathed hard. But waiting there didn’t improve how I felt.
Shoppers coming and going were too preoccupied to notice that anything was wrong with me. I stepped toward the curb and hoped to wave down a passing taxi but few passed and none stopped. I struggled up the hill to see if the street there held more promise. Nothing. A kind gentleman I passed told me that the nearest taxi stand was a block away down the hill. I’ll never make it, I thought. Then that verse in Isaiah came into my head, “They will walk and not faint.”* Could I? Was that a literal promise: Could I claim it now?
Back in Joshua’s time, the priests had been told to put their feet into the water and that then the waters would slacken. So to claim God’s promise now, I began in faith. Slowly I put one foot in front of the other, leaning against the building as much as possible, until I finally reached the taxi stand. There I collapsed into an empty taxi and managed to blurt out the address. The driver looked at me with a strange look but I didn’t feel up to explaining my problem. He started the engine, threaded through the heavy holiday traffic and delivered me safely home. As we rode, I silently breathed a prayer, “Thank you, Heavenly Father, that you are a promise keeper and I can trust you.”
Once again I had tested a promise of God and He had kept it, kept it literally to the letter, just as David said, “Your promise is well tried and your servant loves it.”**
* Isaiah 40:31 - NRSV
**Psalm 119:140 – NRSV
©Mary D. MacKinnon
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