She was sitting on the floor, her head resting on her knees, her face hidden. I had just entered the store but not before noticing the small bus with a specific logo parked out front. There are several agencies in our area that work with adults with special needs and one of them was obviously on an outing to our local Dollar Tree. It didn't take much to figure that this young woman hunched down within a foot of the checkout had to be from this same group. Sitting quietly beside her was another woman. I assumed she was her attendant.
For the next few minutes I gathered up my items and then hurried back to the front of the store and the checkout line. I was feeling a bit frazzled with so much to do. The women's group from our church would be at my house for dinner the next night and I wasn't near ready. I had also promised to do the devotional and hadn't had an extra moment to think about what I was going to say.
The girl hadn't budged. There she continued to sit, her posture unchanged with her face still hidden. And beside her, unmoved, sat the other woman. Quietly. Patiently. Even with customers coming and going, milling around and forming a line within inches of them both, she appeared unperturbed at the behavior of her charge. She showed no frustration or anger. She simply sat there, close by. Just waiting.
The next afternoon as I finished up with the preparations for dinner that night, I thought of the devotional that I had yet to get ready. I grabbed a treasury of Christmas stories off the book shelf and scanned the table of contents and then randomly opened to one of them. Written in the 1940s, it was the true account of a pastor who was feverishly finishing up his Christmas sermon when he had an interruption, one of many. The church had a home for emotionally disturbed children, and one of the young boys had crawled under his bed, refusing to come out. Frustrated and at his wit's end, the minister did everything he possibly could to try to convince the child to come out from under the bed. There was no response. Finally, he got down on his stomach and slid under the bed and with his face to the floor simply waited. A few minutes later he felt a hand slide into his.
The writer ended his story by saying that the pressure he had felt was no longer there. He had his Christmas sermon. Though God had revealed Himself first through His creation and later through the prophets and the Law, it wasn't until He actually came to live with us that we were willing to reach out and take hold of His hand.
I thought of that broken woman at the dollar store and the person who sat patiently waiting beside her on that dirty floor. As the pastor had his sermon, I had my devotional. It was lived out for me in the dollar store that day, a reminder that Jesus came for each of us, as broken as we are. And He waits. Close by. Ready to take our hand.