Cautiously, Joanne maneuvered the car into a parking spot and turned off the engine. Her head lolled forward, nearly bumping the steering wheel. Valiantly she fought back the queasiness in her stomach. Encouraging words sprang unexpectedly into her mind, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”*
Breathing deep, she gathered up the vase of flowers riding precariously in the passenger seat and the large bulky package beside it. Clinging to the Promise, she boldly ventured into Good Samaritan Hospital.
The antiseptic air assaulted her as she walked through the automatic doors, generating a strong desire to bolt to the nearest Ladies room. Steeling herself, she continued down the tiled hallway, each step echoing like gunshots.
The last time she’d been in a hospital, she had been eight years old. Her Mom had died there. Ever since, she had successfully managed to avoid them at all costs. Two weeks ago, when her best friend Jackie had been admitted to the pre-natal ward, Joanne had screamed to the empty room, “No! People die in hospitals!”
She had wanted to visit; she had sent flowers. She had told the women’s group about Jackie, and they had prayed together that she and the baby would come through everything fine.
Joanne tentatively entered a private room to find Jackie propped up on a stack of pillows. Her face appeared haggard, but her eyes blinked a smile. Dropping the package on a guest chair, she came forward with the flowers. Jackie nodded towards a table to the side where others flowers presided over the sterile room.
“I’m glad you to see you, Jo.” Jackie spoke in a tired whisper, “I didn’t expect you to come.”
Joanne nodded, her mouth dry as she attempted to form words. “You’re my best friend, Jackie. I’m sorry I haven’t come sooner.”
Jackie closed her eyes as a sudden pain rippled through her side. Joanne looked away, her gaze falling upon strange machines showing bright red numbers which communicated nothing, but renewed her feeling of anxiousness.
Awkwardly, she grabbed at the package. “I brought you something.” She roughly stripped the outer bag away, pulling out a thick cloth with myriad colors. Setting it carefully upon Jackie, she spread it out to reveal a hand-made quilt. Jackie gasped, whispering, “It’s gorgeous Jo! I love it.”
Joanne blinked back tears as fear fell away. “It’s from the women’s group at my church, Jackie. We call it a prayer quilt. It’s hand-sewn, and you can see all the little knots. And Jackie, the best part is this: when someone tied a knot, they were praying for you and your baby. I tied many of them myself.”
Jackie ran her hands across the soft, comfortable material, her fingers tracing from knot to knot to knot – there were so many. “I don’t know what to say, Jo. This is wonderful. I’ve never seen a – what did you call it?”
“A prayer quilt. We make them for people facing tough situations so that they will know that people care and that Jesus loves them so much.”
Jackie patted the blanket as if were a cat or a small dog; it felt strangely warm to the touch. “But Jo, I don’t even go to your church.”
“That doesn’t matter. Jesus came for everybody. He came for you, too, Jackie.”
Jo grabbed one of Jackie’s hands and held it close to her own body. “I’ve always been afraid to talk to you about this. You know I go to church, and you’ve always respected that--even if you don’t go. And I’ve always been…well… afraid of how you might react if I tried to get you to come. I was afraid I would lose you as a friend; I never realized how wrong I was not to invite you to know Jesus like I do. I’m sorry Jackie. When you went into … um, came here… it made me understand what is most important.”
In the quiet that followed, Jackie felt an unusual peace, as if another Presence filled the room. She responded honestly, “You were right, Jo. I wouldn’t have listened before. But I love this prayer quilt. I’ve never received such a wonderful, loving gift…ever. Tell me more…and I’ll listen.”
Joanne smiled, the words of the Promise still ringing in her head, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”*
*Philippians 4:13 NKJV
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