She was slow of step and slower still of speech, not exactly a limp but unsteady on her feet and speech slurred, the words blurred together so that I had to listen hard to understand her. That must be why they told me her name was something other than it really was. They hadn’t understood her. But as we walked together down the street, I listened well and learned her name. I also learned it was a stroke that had left her as I now found her. I had not known her before today.
But today, as we all set out in pairs to walk the neighborhood to pray for and with any people we would encounter along the way, she and I were paired together. I took her arm on her weak side, thinking to steady her, realizing I would not be able to walk at my usual brisk pace, I would not be able to cover as much ground. (as if that mattered to God)
Her granddaughter walked with us in a silence I thought unusual until her grandmother explained to me that she was autistic. She stayed close to us, stopping only to pick dandelions which had gone to seed, blowing on each one in turn, sending the white fluff flying into the air, reminding me of all the times I had done this very same thing as a child. There is a particular delight in watching the white dandelion dissolve into a thousand wisps of white which float away right before your eyes. I have spent my fair share of time making wishes on dandelion fluff, while blowing on it, not unlike making a wish and blowing out the candles on a birthday cake.
I thought I would be her guide, but she was mine. Said she had grown up in this neighborhood. She directed our path. With the slower pace, I noticed more – more flowers, more trees blooming, more people out in this spring morning’s peaceful, sunlit quiet – quite the contrast from the chaos that so often fills this same neighborhood’s nights with the noises of danger and discord.
And so we walked as she talked of her experiences here, while I struggled to understand her words, wondering how this would all turn out. I didn’t have to wait long for the answer to that question. She spotted him before I even knew someone was there – sitting in the shadows of the front porch in the half open doorway. Not waiting for an invitation nor an introduction, she made her way up onto the front porch to engage the man in conversation. She did all the talking (she didn’t need my help to minister to a stranger with God’s love and compassion) and she did all the praying. The man began to weep, he had no trouble understanding the words that she was lifting up to God on his behalf – neither did I. I understood it all.
We continued on our way, stopping to pray for a woman in her car and later a man wearing an ankle monitor, signaling his probable recent release from prison. There were others, all seemed surprised and grateful that someone would care enough to take the time to pray for them. We did not know their individual stories, but God knew each one, each name, each story, each need intimately and completely. We didn’t have to know. Ours was to pray. God does the heavy lifting. And so we prayed. Well, mostly she prayed.
I listened and I learned. I learned from her boldness. I learned from her abundance of compassion which made her bold on behalf of these people whom God loves and desires that we should show them His love. I learned that what I perceived as disabilities and therefore liabilities that would prevent us from doing the walking and the talking which is what a prayer walk consists of (walking and talking) – that these were not obstacles to be overcome – it was that they simply made no difference at all to the success or failure of the mission with which we had been entrusted.
I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” which he begged God to take away. The reply?
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
True, my new friend was slow of step and slow of speech. But neither “thorn” had the slightest impact on the power of her prayers spoken for the people we met that day. It’s not that her speech suddenly became clear, rather that God’s presence was felt and His message of His love and care for each person was received loud and clear by each precious person. I am witness to that miracle.
God can use anyone who will answer His call in obedience. What I consider insurmountable obstacles are not obstacles at all to God. My new friend showed me this truth. How glad I am she didn’t stay home, thinking she could not walk or talk well enough to prayer walk the neighborhood for God. That would be a lie of our enemy, the devil.
After my sacred time with my prayer walk partner, I am encouraged, inspired, renewed and reminded not to let anything hold me back from answering God’s call on my life. I watched God’s power and love flow through her to the people, unobstructed, because she was not in the way. God’s power was made perfect in what we would call her weaknesses, which turned out to be her strengths.
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. . . . Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’ ” (1 Corinthians 1:27-31)
thanking God for my prayer walk partner,
sincerely, Grace Day