My eyes caught a glance of him. The salt and pepper scraggles poking out of his beard drew my attention. I motioned towards my husband with my eyes and head. We surveyed the weather worn straw hat. Saw the heavy glasses held together with duct tape. Caught a glance of his shirt that he carefully had tucked into his dirt packed jeans held up by a worn out leather belt. And then we cringed. His shoes were nothing but the remnants of some old work boots literally wrapped with tape. No soles, toes poking through, but meticulously still laced with a portion of a shoe string. My breath left me when I watched him walk out of the store leaning on a cane as his feet literally turned onto his ankles. He was walking on his ankles as though they were the bottoms of his feet. And he hobbled out as though it was his normal. We followed him knowing our path had to meet his.
He had been in the store on a desperate hunt for new shoes, but his search was complicated by his shoe size, 15EEE. I was determined to locate a pair of shoes for this soul. I was confident that God would provide them. I knew our meeting was arranged by Him. There was a pair of size 15EEE in this town and they were ordained for this time. I stepped away and frantically began calling each and every shoe store that Google could find. Nothing. Nothing even close. How could that be? This man needed shoes and my God provides. God drew my eye and my heart towards this soul. He put me there to help provide for this need. What do you mean there isn’t a size 15EEE in this town?
I gathered my emotions and walked back to where my husband and this man were visiting. I shook my head when my husband looked at me. I couldn’t find any. The man was not surprised. He shared how a church had gifted him a size 16 but they didn’t fit. They hurt his feet. He was content to drag around his taped boots rather than have his feet hurt. And then my spirit was rattled. I offered to pray over him not thinking there was anything else we could do. Our new friend, Jerry, said he believed God would heal him. Pray for that. Ouch! While I had been diligently searching for what I saw as Jerry’s greatest need, I should have looked with my spiritual eyes. His greatest need was simply to be healed. He knew it and he believed it would happen. Why had I not thought of that first?
There are those in this world that see things with those keen, spiritual goggles. They recognize the child not reading as needing security, not phonics. They see the mom yelling in the grocery store not as out of control but as exhausted and needing 5 minutes peace.
The greatest need of any individual at any given time is probably not what is seen on the outside. The layers of what is visible only hide the sores, the wounds, or maybe cover the hopes and beliefs that keep getting overlaid with something else that is the distraction in our eye. In Jerry’s case, beyond-repair boots versus his desire to be healed. I only saw the boots.
And why is this? Why can’t we all see straight to the hidden, straight to the tender places in the soul? Why can’t we all carry our pair of spiritual goggles tucked discreetly in our belt ready to whip out at a moment’s notice? Well, how often do we even take time to look? How often do we take time to listen?
I am guilty of being a “fixer” and I find myself trying to fix what isn’t the big need. I try to decorate the inside of a house when there are a series of obscure holes in the roof that allow destruction of everything placed under them in bad weather. The constant drip destroys the new hardwood floors from sitting in water. They begin to buckle and bend. The perfectly upholstered sofa molds from within due to the water that falls from above. The beautiful new vase sitting on the antique table has mildewed and the stench is potent every time you walk by. And don’t you dare inspect that antique table. You might find a water stain or two. But at first glance into the room it all looks pristine. It looks so beautifully placed. But the room and its contents are rotting from the inside out because of those obscure holes in the roof that were the greatest need to be addressed.
Jerry hobbled on his way that day. I almost couldn’t bear to watch him as he struggled down the sidewalk. I secretly hoped that he was actually an angel in disguise and that God just needed to teach me a lesson. I didn’t want to believe I couldn’t help him in some way or that he left our meeting without a visible healing. I don’t know where he slept that night or if he ever found any boots to fit him. I don’t know if his feet were ever miraculously turned to the correct positioning or if he still hobbles on his ankles. I only know and have confidence in the fact that our God is a healer of both the visible and the hastily-hidden wounds. I know that when the Healer hands me my own spiritual goggles I only have to do what He tells me. I don’t have to try and fix anything on my own. I just have to listen and obey. The healing isn’t my assignment. Being available is. Thank you Jerry for reminding me of this.
Amy Cravey has learned that the Lord indeed has a sense of humor. She resides in the dusty desert of West Texas (not a very glamorous backdrop) with her husband of almost 12 years, 2 dogs, 2 fainting goats (yep, they really do fall over) 3 turtles, 2 horses, numerous chickens, a flock of guineas (Google it) and, oh yeah, some beautiful kiddos. The Lord has blessed the Craveys in a new hay sales and brokering business where she can frequently be found on a forklift, wearing her fringed boots or blingy flip- flops, loading out customers for Twisted C. She steals any minute she can to quickly peck out a word the Lord has placed on her heart and looks forward to the season in her life when that time is more plentiful. Amy desires to truly live Proverbs 31:25: “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”