The visiting minister opened his Bible. Taking it up he preached on believing faith. And on healing. He then invited any person desiring God’s healing touch to come forward for prayer.
Several people with varied ailments entered the center aisle. They started toward the front. It was like a mini-pilgrimage for the hopeful. The regulars of the church turned to see their friend Opaline – the elegant woman inelegantly rising and joining with others. Her friends were moved for her. Her Christ-like example constantly inspired. Most uplifting was her simple and her certain love for Jesus. Her shoulders elevated slightly from the rigid crutches supporting them, Opaline inched forward in the line.
She had lingered at other times, trusting that a miracle of healing might one day come. She could linger again now. She held strongly to a certain knowing. A healing grace from her Lord would come. Still, she conceded that the when was not hers to dictate. She rested in the trustworthiness of a now-and-not-yet principle often at play in God’s mysterious but all-wise workings. His ways are perfect, Opaline reminded herself.
For Opaline there was no question whether Jesus healed, nor whether she or her circumstances mattered to him. She knew that she mattered. He confirmed his love and presence often. In many ways. She felt it, knew it inside. And she responded by loving in return. Loving him. Loving people. Now here in the healing line, as in other settings, she was just ready; open for whatever he may have for her. It was Opaline’s way.
The Church Family looked on, and prayed. They were hopeful, almost straining to believe. Indeed if a miracle could be willed into being (faith aside) her friends would have already seen to it.
With a kind smile the minister greeted her. He spoke words of Scripture and then prayed.
Nothing. Some moments of hopeful waiting followed. Nothing. A gradual swivel and Opaline retraced the pathway to her seat. She drew her Bible to its familiar resting place on her lap. Clasping her hands on it she lifted her heart in petition – for those up front receiving prayer.
Years lumbered by. Indeed the years themselves seemed to even limp at times. Variations of the healing-line scene replayed occasionally. A preaching message. The invitation for healing. Opaline at times joining the others. With crutches, braces and her distinct angular limp navigating the center aisle. And again, returning to her seat – her hardware companions carrying forward their duties into another day, and week, and year.
If Opaline was disheartened, evidence escaped notice. No sorrowing looks of disappointment; no clues of sadness.
Maybe her mindset became, Perhaps next time. No one likely knew. Regardless. If her spirit did need rallying – it surely rallied.
Opaline was a deep well. Interior graces like contentment and peace and endurance – in the middle of whatever suffering – deepened her, flavored her. Prayer and solitude and worship. These cultivated the graces. She chose – aware of her frailties both inner and outer – a kind of lifestyle she felt most natural to Jesus. Her inner deepening was traced to her frequent times with him; Worship of Jesus was central to Opaline. No time for wearying whys or for self-pity snivelings. ‘Life’s an adventure. Bring it on.
Decembers came and went. The Christmas Plays didn’t flounder. Summer Vacation Bible School was Clock-work On.
Opaline’s Sunday School children bounced and giggled when she entered their brightly decorated room. They showed off coloring work and clay figures; it didn’t matter the quality. It was meaning that mattered. What message from God was each child here to catch today? The view separated the treasured from the trite. Her high school students moaned on a rare day she might be absent. They loved the engaging, gifted instructor. And her smile. Always the smile.
Opaline lived. Limping toward her miracle.
Long ago at a wedding festival the host cheerily exclaimed to Jesus, You saved the best for last.
For Opaline he did the same.
©2015 Jerry Lout