She Stands Alone
"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
I wiped beads of sweat from my forehead as I pushed the shopping cart towards my car. Unloading my groceries as fast as I could, I hopped in my car, hoping for quick relief. But the triple digit temperatures had seeped inside. Blasting the air conditioning, I pulled out of the parking lot on to a back street. That's when I saw her. Standing alone.
A petite figure stood on the sidewalk in front of a brick building. A black covering draped her head, leading to a black dress, black hose and sturdy black shoes. Though she faced the building, I could see she held a Bible. Her head bent over the cradled book as she stood in the sweltering heat. Alone.
It took but a moment to pass her, but the image of her standing alone branded into my brain. Oh, I've seen people standing alone in front of buildings. But this wasn't just any building. This wasn't a bank or a restaurant. There was no bus stop in front. The women entering this building were broken, and weren't going in for healing.
And on that hot summer afternoon one woman stood alone praying for them and the children they carried.
She stood alone for what she believed God told her to do that day. In the heat. Facing discomfort, odd looks and probably some derisive comments. Some might say her sacrifice made no difference. We'll never know.
We'll never know whose plans were changed by her prayers, by her willingness to stand alone.
Moments before I saw her, all I thought about was getting out of the heat. But her conviction challenged me to ask: For what cause am I willing to stand alone?
The sight of her touched me deeply because I know the exhaustion of battle fatigue. I've sat in frustration rather than standing firm. I know what weary feels like when it seems my efforts aren't making a significant difference. I've felt cornered rather than like a conqueror.
Some days, I'm tired of standing for what I believe in. I think others would stand taller, or with less exhaustion. They'd deal with discouragement better than me. They'd show mercy where I show frustration. Maybe someone else could ... maybe they should ... take over for me.
That's when the image of this humble woman comes to mind. And the Lord says to me:
You just think she's standing alone. She's not. I'm right next to her. And I'll be right next to you. Keep standing.
So I breathe in and breathe out. I picture the precious sister standing in front of the building. Only this time, she's not alone. In my mind I see Jesus standing beside her.
And on my own street, in my own life, in my own home, facing my own calling, wondering if I'm making any difference, I determine to stand another day. For a cause I believe in ... for the cause of Christ ... wherever He calls me to stand.
Dear Lord, thank You for reminding me that when I think I'm standing alone, I'm not. Thank You for being my hope in difficult times, and holding me up when I want to sit this one out. Help me to remember You are a very present help in times of trouble. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Have I ever been tempted to give up on something because it seems too overwhelming? What difference would it make if I knew Jesus was standing right beside me?
Identify an area of your life where you have given up or want to. Perhaps you've stopped praying, or inviting, or asking to talk with someone. Commit to do one thing this week to move forward in this area. This could be pray for five minutes, invite once more or ask again.
Romans 14:7, "For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone." (NIV)
Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (NIV)
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