She is always gracious, but this sounded serious. We had to all be together she said, Joel and I and her. A few church services came and went and we never met up.
A day or so ago I worried that something was really wrong, that she needed us to help her with something and wondered if we shouldn't just go to her home and meet.
Once she even attempted to WALK to our house from the bus stop, but the bus had been in an accident and so she waited at her stop in vain.
Something was not right.
I chatted with this one and that one and practiced a song and gathered the littles like a hen gathers chicks and almost forgot about our "meeting."
And then there she was. Sitting sweetly, Bible and purse on her lap and Joel was ushering us all into his office.
I always feel awkward at this moment. I offer her a seat and then just get comfortable and wait. You don't know the reason for the meeting so you don't know how to prepare.
You just wait.
And the story began to unfold as she spoke more with her hands than anything and I listened.
She smiled at me and opened her Bible. She said that she meant to go home last week and read the passage that Joel preached out of to review it in her mind, and by mistake landed in another chapter. While she was there a verse she highlighted years ago struck her and gripped her heart.
"For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter." II Corinthians 7:11
She said she kept asking the Lord if she needed to be "Clear" in some matter, and if so, which one, with whom??
She said that this was why she wanted ME to be in this meeting so badly.
I swallowed hard. Eyes wide, heart racing.
She kept unfolding a story and I tried to keep my eyes directly on her so as not to miss any inkling of what I had done to offend this sweet lady.
It was about a dress. Months ago, actually a year ago she had wanted to bless our family in some way. I told her that she was sweet and lovely and that was blessing enough, though she insisted still. She mentioned that she used to do some ironing for a family in the church to be a help to a mother of many littles and wondered if that was something I would need?
I remember thinking that was too generous too kind and she was just too old to be tackling my ironing pile!
She insisted week after week so I finally relented.
And for a month or so she blessed us so with her sweet prayer filled ironing.
One day she arrived at our door! Walking all the way from the bus stop, after catching a bus at her house with a garment in her hands. She was beside herself with worry and I can still see the look in her eyes of just shame.
She had noticed a spot on one of the girl's dresses and tried her best to remove it with every concoction she could remember. It bleached the dress and rendered it unusable and she was so distraught that she walked to us to tell us so!
I had never seen such a thing in my life. I was sorry to lose the dress, but even more sorry to see her walk and feel so guilt ridden.
She spoke to Joel about it and life went on and she was unable to help us due to her health and I was just happy to have her smiling at us each service.
The "matter" that she said the Holy Spirit was convicting her of was surrounding the dress. I looked stunned and shocked.
Mostly because I thought to myself, "Wasn't that cleared up a loooong time ago?" And then my heart reminded me of two messages I had sent this very day concerning the Holy Spirit and His leading me to just contact two friends. Two old "matters" that He wanted me to make sure were "clear." How interesting that the Lord would have ME send those messages and then here this message from this dear old saint.
My mind then flashed to another matter. One that I needed to clear up. One that I needed to humble myself in.
She proceeded to look as though she knew what I had done and what I needed to do. I listened intently as she placed her hand on my shoulder and told me that all those months ago, she had spoken to my husband, and she should have spoken to ME. I hugged her and laughed and she told me that it wasn't a huge weight between us, but just something that just like the scripture had attested, needed "cleared."
And though I am sure she had no idea what she was about to tell me next would make such a profound impact and tie the whole situation in that room and in my heart into a perfect bow, she began another story.
It was of her Father, a blind minister who told her once that Jesus wants us to be his Bride, spotless and without wrinkle.
She said that a wrinkle doesn't have to be dirty. And I said the next phrase in perfect sync with her, "It's just creased."
It's just something that takes away from the Bride's appearance. It is one flaw that needs corrected. Little did I know how this soiled dress would speak volumes to me over a year latter through a woman who is a beautiful Bride of Christ's.
I asked her if she would excuse me. I had a phone call to make.....