Pumpernickel and Pajamas
She came in with tears in her eyes. I knew she was having a hard time just being there.
“Hi! Can I help you?” I tried to sound happy but it was obvious that this was not going to be easy.
“People told me to come here,” she said. “I’m really in need of help and this is hard for me… the asking.”
“Ok. Can you tell me a little bit about what’s going on?” I asked.
“Well, I am in my late 60’s. I have gotten behind on my property taxes, I have no food in my house and I am just really struggling. There was another church that had offered to help me, but they are on the other side of town and I don’t have the gas to get there.” This time when she spoke a tear rolled down her cheek.
I knew that I could not help with property taxes, but we could help with a little food. She had not mentioned clothes, but I noticed that she was wearing sandals and short pants.
When I asked if she was familiar with our food pantry she said that she had heard that we had one. When I pointed to the building (at the other end of a long parking lot) she sighed. “I just walked all the way to you from there. I didn’t know where to go so I parked there. I really didn’t know what to do.”
The Lord told me to put first things first… He told me clearly that we needed to pray. I asked for her name and in the parking lot we prayed about her situation. I told her that He is our Provider and asked if she knew the Lord. She said that she did, but that she had not been very good at listening to Him. Her pride had really gotten in the way.
The Lord said, “Don’t make her walk back. Drive her.”
There was a line of people waiting to get into the clothes closet. How was I going to leave the clothes closet to drive one lady back to where she needed to be?? The other volunteers stepped up and I asked her to get into my car.
Once we reached the food pantry I went inside ahead of her and asked the men there to really take care of her. They were delighted.
I returned to the clothes closet where the door stood open as people waited to be served. Near the end of the line was a quiet man standing patiently with his hands folded. I recognized his face and knew that he had been before, but I could not remember his name.
“Hello, sir! How are you today?” I asked.
“Hola, senora. I am fine.” He said. He was so gentle in how he spoke and had peace in his eyes.
I took his ID card to look up his name in our computer and saw that he had not visited in a while.
“Are you ok today, sir?” I asked.
“Well, my wife? She has had brain surgery. She is home now but she spent many weeks in the hospital. The surgery left her unable to speak and unable to move. The doctors say she will improve, but it will take a while. I was wondering if you have pajamas?”
I remembered one pair of new pajamas that we had held just in case someone needed them for a hospital stay. We don’t normally keep them because people generally wear them when they are sick, and we don’t really have the space.
“Sir, what size would she need?” I asked.
“Small. She is so small now,” he said.
I walk to the back to look at the set of pajamas. They were grey with pink trim and so soft. And they were a size small.
Underneath them were a new pair of slippers that I had forgotten that we had. I immediately got a lump in my throat. God began to remind me that His hand is never shortened and that He is present in EVERY situation. I was so excited to tell the man about what I had found, until…
I went into the room where three of the volunteers were sorting and I said, “Ladies, remember these pajamas that we said we’d save for someone’s hospital stay? He’s here! The Lord has brought the man for his wife. She had brain surgery and needs these pajamas!”
All three of them smiled at me, and one of them said, “No! Look in that bag. We just received a WHOLE BAG of size small pajamas and robes. They are BEAUTIFUL and brand new! We knew we didn’t normally keep them and there are several so we didn’t have space for them all…”
I went to the bag that they referred to and there they were… a white night gown with beautiful bead work, a pink robe, a precious pair of soft pink pajamas and a white robe… all of it new, all of it small and all of it perfect for this lady.
I walked to the front of the store and I found the man. When I walked up to him I tried to speak, but I began to weep like a BABY! I began to explain to him that we didn’t usually keep the pajamas and how they’d just found these just for his wife when he interrupted me.
“My God is bigger than brain surgery. I have slept on a sofa for a month while my wife lay in the hospital bed. She prayed for pajamas. He has answered her prayer. I have prayed for healing. He has begun to give her her speech back. My GOD IS BIGGER!”
I was a complete and total mess. As I went to the front to fold the pajamas the other shoppers in the store noticed me crying. I could NOT help it. The presence of the Lord was so strong. It was more than I could take, and so I told those standing in line about his story and about the pajamas.
One lady spoke up, “I remember when a man that I worked with trusted God with EVERYTHING! I didn’t know God then and it made me so confused when he would talk about God providing. Now, I know God and you are RIGHT! That is clearly the Lord working on that man’s behalf!”
I prayed with the man before he left and he hugged me. I was totally in awe of the Lord’s specific provision in this man’s life. As he opened the door to leave…. she walked back in.
“Hi!” I said. “Were they able to help you at the food pantry?”
“Oh yes,” she said. “As a matter of fact… there’s something kind of funny. See, I can’t eat regular bread and would you know that they had pumpernickel?? Who would have thought that they would have had the ONLY bread that I can really eat at a food pantry?”