A glimmer of moonlight sneaks through a chink in the curtains; settles on fair hair falling around a delicate face. She kneels by her bed, head bowed, childlike hands clasped in prayer. In the peaceful silence, children sleep in the next room; little blonde heads nestling carelessly in new found security. She reels off the thank you prayers and prayers for her children; yet hesitates to allow God access into the deeply hidden recesses of her wounded heart.
Annie is a lone parent; the sad consequence of a violent husband. Despite her new faith in Jesus she feels like a second class Christian. She inhales, blows out her anger. Breathes in again; puffs out another hurt. Her spirit had soared that morning, when the young man who usually ignored her, had smilingly greeted her and the children at the church door. Less than an hour later her soaring spirit had plummeted, wounded again by his humiliatingly thoughtless words.
“We must try to treat people as equals.” He had said. “Even those who are lower than ourselves.”
Anger turns to sorrow as she realises he doesn’t know the real Jesus; the Jesus whose heart embraces the fatherless family. The Jesus who loves the saint and the sinner. But it doesn’t lessen the pain and she continues to pour out her heart to her Heavenly Father, silently expelling the grievance as she prays for the one who caused the hurt.
Thoughts turn to Jan, widowed with three young children. Jan’s husband had been Pastor of their small village church. A man with a heart for the broken. Annie remembered the raw compassion in his grey eyes the first time they had met. He had always considered her an equal. Then the Lord had taken him home, after a short but virulent illness. Now Jan and her ten year old daughter, Rachel, had gone too. A car crash outrageously butting in on lives already devastated by grief. A pang of intense love takes her by surprise, as the faces of Jan’s two youngest children, now cared for by guardians, come into focus. She had longed to nurture them alongside her own, knowing they had loved her, been devastated at leaving her. How beautiful is the heart of a child. Never judging, only loving. She prays for them.
Jan and Annie had been close friends and prayer partners, their one parent status drawing them together. They had shared the things others couldn’t understand. How it emphasised the oneness when they took the children to village events and church picnics. Then had light-heartedly vowed that they would, ‘fix a smile on the face, breathe in and puff out the pain’. Annie had been Jan’s trusted confidant.
Rising from her knees Annie sits quietly on the bed, thoughts meandering down familiar painful avenues, tears flowing freely. Heart breaking one more time. She senses the gentle arms of Jesus enfolding her in a gloriously tender embrace. It melts her. A fleetingly wistful smile illuminates dainty features, as she recalls a recently told story.
A poignant tale of three women, quietly kneeling, heads bowed in prayer. As He passed by, Jesus embraced the first in His loving arms, holding her closely for a while; her tears of grief and sadness evaporating in the comfort of His closeness. He continued on, pausing briefly, before firmly placing His hands on the shoulders of the second woman, lingering for just a moment. The third woman He merely brushes as He passes. Her serene smile acknowledging His presence. Annie understood that these three women were at different stages of their journey with Jesus. From the newly discovered love, to the growing faith, to the totally trusting. She loved the allegory of growing familiarity, faith and trust in Jesus and of His awareness of the depth of each need.
Years have passed. Annie kneels by her bed; fair hair turned silver by the years. Delicate face now lined, loose skinned hands revealing her age. Her faith has continued to grow and strengthen into an intimate, wholly trusting relationship with Jesus, who has lovingly nurtured and guided her through her journey of fiery trials. Gently leading her into His service.
As Annie faces her present trial, she contentedly sighs out her praise and thanks to God, in worship, before moving on to seek His counsel.
“Breathe on me breath of God. Fill me with life anew.”
She senses the gracious hand of Jesus merely brush her shoulder as He passes.
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