As patches of evening light seeped into the narrow alley, determination powered my seventy-year-old frame onward. My feet well knew the route to Simeon’s house so I let my mind fly to the startling events of the morning.
Sunshine was pouring through the door, wrapping warmth around my busy fingers -- the fingers that could plait many a basket weave almost on their own. Yes, my mother and grandmother had carefully taught me the craft when I was a child, and the Lord had enabled me to continue it into my old age.
The palm leaf strips were flying when I suddenly became aware of a presence. Raising my eyes, I found myself peering at the silhouette of a woman standing in my doorway.
She stepped to my side and bent on one knee. “Sister Anna, may I request something of you? Will you lend me your very largest basket?”
I immediately recognized the voice of Miriam, a dear young woman who had placed her faith in Jesus of Nazareth the night I had believed in Him myself.
“Why Miriam, you know I would not withhold such a request. Please, take any one you desire, but I truly doubt you can carry my very largest filled only half way!”
“No, Anna. I do not plan to carry anything with it, but it must be very strong. Yes, very strong indeed.”
I detected a thread of anticipation yet earnestness in her normally steady tones. “Wait Miriam. Please tell me your intended use for this basket so that I can give you what will serve you best.”
To my surprise, Miriam stepped to the door and swung it closed before she spoke.
“You must not tell anyone. Our new brother in Christ, Saul of Tarsus, must leave tonight. His life is in great danger from the Jews. In fact, they are watching the gates attempting to prevent his escape from the city. Ananias and Simeon have decided to lower Paul to safety outside the city walls.”
Miriam placed her hand on my arm. “Now do you understand why we need the basket?”
I bowed my head. “Yes, Miriam, your words are clear.”
I stepped to the wall and lifted down the basket hanging there. “This is not the largest basket, but I believe it is the strongest. I spent extra time reinforcing this one with cords. Although the design has never been tested with the weight equivalent of a man, I believe it is the best I have.”
My mind re-focused on the street before me. I was nearing the wall where Simeon’s house was located. A door opened and I was received into the believer’s home where the inmates were expectantly waiting for nightfall.
Hours later, shrouded by darkness, we huddled in a circle in Simeon’s upper room. Ananius initiated a time of prayer, and as brethren in Christ, we committed Saul’s journey into our Father’s hands.
Hands! A thought intruded my mind, shattering my peace. I raised my head to find a moonbeam illuminating my own fingers. They appeared shriveled and almost lifeless.
At the sight, my heart cried out in fear, “Lord, these hands are so weak. They do not have the strength to craft a basket that could possibly lower your servant to safety!”
It was then as if the Lord spoke, “Anna, I have strengthened your hands already.”
Awe flowed into my soul as I pondered the strength of my Father. “Lord, You strengthened my fingers before I had any idea of Your purpose for this basket!”
With my heart overflowing with praise, I rose to my feet just as Simeon spoke in low tones, “The moon will soon disappear behind the clouds. The time has come.”
Whispered farewells hung on the air as Saul slipped into the basket secured to the window. Suddenly I realized I was holding my breath. Was I doubting again so soon?
“Yes, Lord,” my whisper blended with the scraping of the basket against the city wall, “I will believe Your strength binds the cords and fibers of that basket.”
The men at the window were no longer straining on the ropes. I knew the basket had fulfilled its purpose.
Silently, I stepped to the window just as another moonbeam reached through a hole in the cloud.
I stretched my palms into the shimmering ray; “Lord, may You receive the glory for the strength You give!”
*Isaiah 35:3 (KJV) aided in the Lord’s response
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