The piano swells to a harmonious crescendo when she turns in her pew and snags your wrist. Her fingers are strong, tiny, the skin pinched from years of weather and wisdom. She holds your gaze and beneath her bones you can feel your pulse stutter and quicken.
“My granddaughter,” she says, her immigrant accent still thick and rumbling. “She waited seven years before children. It will happen.”
She nods firmly, pinching back protest. You smile politely, nod reluctant. Her fingers release you and she turns away. You trace a pattern on the tile floor, biting back tears.
It’s been eight years, you think silently, the years bunching up tight and messy in your chest. Eight…
The waiting room is the same; green and grey chairs of hard plastic and unforgiving foam face the same quietly industrious receptionist at the front desk. A black and white clock taps seconds and minutes across chairs brimming with worry.
You recognize her when she walks in. Her hair has grown and the eyes once sunken into pinched cheeks are bright, alert. Dressed in clothes that fit, she seems so healthy; a far cry from the IV-pushing cancer patient of three years ago.
Unnaturally cold, you tug hard on the bulky knit fibres that wrap your shrinking core. Lifting a tentative hand to the fabric that caps your skull, you remember the soft fuzz that had just started to return six months ago only to slip away again. Six months…
Spoons tap out melodies in coffee cups after Bible Study; napkins snatch cookie crumbs as bites and nibbles are taken. Conversation and laughter wind between legs and arm chairs, morsels of community in small spaces.
He is enthusiastic across the room: expounding on his new job, the benefits, enjoyment and corner office. You dig a toe deep into carpet, listening. Impossible not to count the months – no, years – of unemployment. A slide show of interviews and unanswered resumes slices though you.
The mortgage is due again in twelve days. Between tonight’s graveyard shift slopping factory floors and the coin collection you’ve sold, the pennies don’t add up. Twelve days…
We slog through the muddy places, our hearts and faith spread thin. We catch and linger over the stories of others, offered with a promise of hope and optimism. In the dark, we lunge toward proffered light with desperation; we know our weakness, our frailty. We would accept the promise of a happy ending with gratitude. Defiance, even.
I don’t know your story. Not the details, the quiet hurt and anguish of it. I would soak up your story, the grit and mess with the bits of sweet life and morsels of grace that dot that landscape of your life. But sitting here, I do not know it. Not the beginning or the middle. Least of all the ending.
Sunday morning rows of children lined the front of the church; pink and white sundresses and bouncy curls and untucked polo shirts marched up the risers and faced their parents and church with beaming faces.
I’ll be honest. I did the math. The second and third rows were the five to seven year-olds… the age a child could be if my story had splayed out per my design. Not bitter math, mind you. Not even sad math. Just the reflexive math of a quickening heart.
And then they sang. Arms akimbo and busy feet and little hearts enthused with the gospel message and they cried out, ‘God’s got it!’ Whatever you need: God’s got it.
I don’t know your story. I do know that Jesus invites the burdened and the weary to come to Him, and I’m pretty sure that’s the whole lot of mankind. Every one of us, bowed down under the breaking load of a broken world. Beauty ripe for redemption. Rest and joy whistling in the wings.
I don’t know your story, but He does. And He’s got it. Whatever it is, He’s got this. All of it. He’s had the beginning and the middle and His love won’t let you go. Can’t let you go.
So you, there, with your heart all raw and aching with so many promised endings, grasp this one. Reach out. He’s got it. He’s got you.
He is El Shaddai… all-sufficient God.
He is Emmanuel… God with you.
He is El Chaiyai… God of my life.