Psalm 139:16 'All the days ordained for me were written in your book befoe one of them came to be.'
Clara can be seen wandering throughout the complex with her cane on most sunny days. She doesn’t walk fast. Her eyes are ever watchful though and silently she prays for the 210 apartments as she walks by. Frequently, she stops and speaks to those who are getting in to their cars or are riding their bicycles. She is known throughout the apartment complex by her cane and greeting.
For many who do not know Clara, she appears as a middle aged woman on a mission. Few know that she has epilepsy and has difficulty speaking in a long conversation. She is homebound in that she doesn’t drive a car. The many neighbors that she meets are busy and in a hurry. Clara doesn’t mind that. Her mind is on one thing. ‘What does God want me to do today? Who is He going to send my way? What words will He put in my mouth?’
The southern winds blow gently as she walks in the sun. Before she sets foot out of her door though, she prays. Clara seeks out God before she sets foot on the sidewalk. She asks for the Lord’s guidance and His words to be put into her mouth. She sets her mind on Him and allows Him to open her heart and let her hear Him. ‘My sheep hear my voice’ the bible says. But, in order for Clara to hear clearly…she must tune in to the Lord. She bows before the throne in her little apartment and waits before Him. On some days, she stays quietly inside. On those days the Lord gives her other things to do. She writes or reads, or listens to music.
Clara’s spirit is quite free. She knows a freedom that few could ever imagine. That is not to say that life is perfect for her. She has grown to know freedom and peace through many long suffering moments. On some days, she forgets things. She has short term memory problems and makes an effort to keep her little apartment clean for her and her husband George. The laundry, the house cleaning and the cooking are her chores.
She could become depressed being homebound. The simple tasks of marketing and shopping are done with George’s help. Yet, her spirit is lifted when she remembers to submit herself to Christ. “He always gives me something to do.” She tells everyone.
There are a handful of shut ins who live nearby. Clara’s thoughts are organized after she sits in prayer. An elderly woman going through chemo is first on her list of visits. She brings her coffee mug and goes down the walkway.
The woman’s little dog barks as Clara knocks on the door. “Come in Clara!” the older woman says loudly. She is hard of hearing and is unaware that she yells. Clara steps in and pets the dog while greeting her neighbor. The two chat for about a half hour and Clara leaves after a short prayer.
Her next stop is an older gentleman who lives near the pool. He’s usually unshaven and sips cold coffee outside his apartment. Though his speech is usually peppered in foul language, he is pleasant as Clara slips into a lounge chair and says hello. He complains about the weather, politics and the neighbor’s baby crying half the night. “Did you do as I suggested Herman?”
“What’s that?” He chugged on his coffee and sat back.
Clara pulled her sweater together and replied. ‘Well, I thought maybe God allowed you to hear the crying in order for you to remember to pray for that family.’
“Oh, that. Well, I forgot. I was just so mad!” He hoped Clara wouldn’t get upset with him. Most of the neighbors didn’t come over and talk to Herman because of his foul mouth.
“Well, I see no other way. Can we pray now? Perhaps there is a real need and this way you might get some quiet tonight.” Herman wasn’t sure he wanted folks to see him praying with Clara.
Clara put her cool hand on Herman’s. “Lord, whatever is happening upstairs you know all about it. I pray that you will remind Herman to pray. Also, I pray for your help with this situation. May peace dwell in this apartment building tonight. Amen”
“Yeah, amen to that!” Herman said gruffly. He told Clara about his son coming to visit. He had told her two days earlier but forgot. “I haven’t seen him in 3 months. He’s going to bring his daughter too.”
Clara smiled and told him it was wonderful. “I’m so glad for you Herman. Don’t forget about taking them to that new coffee shop we found last week.”
A new shop across the street had opened and it was owned by Christians. Herman smiled and his eyes twinkled. “My son loves donuts and coffee. He all ready told me he’d love it. I told him all about you Clara!”
Clara laughed. “I hope I get to meet him! Well, I guess I should be off. Have a nice day Herman!”
Herman smiled as Clara picked up her cane. She was on her way to the corner. A bus stop was at this corner and if Clara timed it right, she’d run in to a few girls who always used that bus stop. Sure enough, two of the teens were there. One was chewing gum and adjusting her elastic pants while the other one spotted Clara. ‘Well hiya lil ol lady! Whatcha doin?”
Clara grinned. “Hi yourself! I’m just stretching my legs. Don’t want to get too comfy and get saddlebags. I got to keep this gorgeous figure a few more years!” Clara laughed easily with the teens. One girl was taking care of her mother while the other was supporting a teen aged sister in a one room studio. The situation was bad, and they shared bits only. Clara reached into her jacket pocket and handed the girls each a bite sized Snickers bar. At times the girls ate them quicker than they could get the wrapper off. Clara ate one herself so the girls would know she wasn’t taking pity. “I can’t have my chocolate in front of ya!” she’d said before.
They talked a bit and Clara found herself telling the girls how” Jesus said that ‘in this world we will have trouble. But be of good cheer…I have overcome the world’ Remember girls, your never too far to talk to Jesus. He can hear you always and will answer a heart that is truthful to Him. No games, just be real to Him and he’ll be real to you. Just remember I pray for you two, you are worth a lot!” The taller girl always giggled when she said that while the other one looked hopeful. ‘See ya lil ol lady!’
Clara continued her walk and stopped at the corner and turned to the left and back to the apartment complex. There was a little library at the complex that had little paper backs and books. It was a free library and run by the activities director. Some of the books were nice, and others were trash. Clara sighed as she spotted the women go in and carry out the trash books. She had six cards that bore the name of her church along with a few small tracts that told little stories of God’s ways. She peeked in and placed the cards and tracts into some of the trash books. She always looked for the worst ones and put the cards and tracts in them. She then laid out a tract on the front of the magazine stand. They were always picked up in a few days. For Clara made it a point to check.
The community had a Laundromat for those who could not afford the extra rent for a washer and dryer in their apartments. Clara noticed a cork board and had placed a card there months ago that was an encouragement to trust in the Lord. She glanced in and noticed it was still there. No one ever removed it.
As she turned to leave she was stopped by one of her neighbors. ‘Clara, can you ask George if he can come over and change my dining room light bulb? I’m not supposed to climb and I know your not supposed to either.”
“Sure, we’ll be over about six is that ok?” Clara nodded when her neighbor said ok. She made her way back to her apartment and got herself a cup of coffee. She took up her crocheting and her coffee and made her way to her front porch. Soon she was busy crocheting.
Mary came downstairs to walk her dog. The two chatted before Mary led her dog away. Nadia came outside to smoke a cigarette and spent some time with Clara. Jason walked by and sat down for a moment. Clara never realized how many would get up and then how many would replace them. She simply chatted as she sipped her coffee and crocheted. She made hats for the homeless. It was something she’d enjoyed doing and her neighbors loved to watch her fingers fly as she chatted.
Though they didn’t realize it, Clara listened more that talked. She tucked serious issues like health problems, emotional upsets, financial needs away to remember to pray. The front porch was available and all she did was sit and allow God to do whatever he wanted.
Homebound yet spirit free. Clara and her husband are far from being rich in material things but never lacking for things to do. The secret to Clara’s life is simplicity. She waits on the Lord. When she has days of deep regret or upset, she finds that her eyes are on herself. That is when she turns her attention to Jesus. One of her neighbors made a very intelligent comment one day. “The only power we really have is on the accelerator of our car.” Clara smiled. Suddenly her neighbor was embarrassed. “I’m sorry Clara, I forgot you don’t drive”
“All the better, it shows He is in my driver’s seat! I’m free to watch the scenery and enjoy the ride!”
There are many 'Claras' in this world. You might have one near you and never know it. While so many are looking for great things to do just for a little while for God, why not look for little things to do for Him all of the time? All of us are hampered in some way. Yet, God can still use us.