Wednesday, January 16, 2008

to quote

In a moment I joined Mahmud, the woman and her child. The woman was dressed in the coarse, baggy clothes of a peasant. She might have been the baby's grandmother. She had a wizened face, shrunken shoulders and her clothes sagged around a thin frame. Only when she lifted her face and stared at me with deep brown eyes could I see that she herself was little more than a child.

"What can I do for you?" I asked, my heart still melting.

"I heard about you in my village, and I walked here."

The place she mentioned was twelve miles away. No wonder the poor thing looked so tired. I sent servants for tea and biscuits. I wondered if she were still nursing the baby; in some villages mothers nurse their children up to three years of age. The baby's eyes stared listlessly, its tiny mouth still. I laid hands on the child's forhead to pray for him; it was hot and dry. As I laid hands on the mother's head to pray, I could feel generations of my family wincing. My heart went out to these little ones, the mother and the child, as I asked God for healing in the name of Jesus. When the maid came I told her also to bring some vitamins for them other. They stayed for half an hour, the mother telling me of her life with a husband who had been crippled in an accident, the new baby, not enough food. And indeed she was nursing the baby - it was the cheapest way to feed him. When the mother finally rose to go, I restrained her with a gesture.

"No," I whispered. "Not yet. We must find some way to see to it that you and the baby are taken care of." Immediately as I said this, the old Bilquis Sheikh began to grow nervous. What if word got out to the other needy people in Wah that the Begum Sahib in the big garden provided a soft touch? Wouldn't we be swamped with lines of other skinny, emaciated, sickly, desperate people?

But even as my heart whispered this question, I knew that I had no choice. Either I had meant it or I had not meant it when I gave myself and all that I possessed to the Lord.

"... and, of course, your husband needs attention too. Let's get you all to the hospital. and let's get some decent food into your bodies. Then, if your husband still can't find work, let me know."

That's all there was to the visit. I made arrangements for the hospital to bill me and waited. But the woman never returned. I was a little surprised. When I asked the servants if they knew what had happened to her, they - as usual - had the answer. She and the baby and her husband had indeed gone to the hospital, and now they were all better. The husbnad had work. My ego bridled at first at the ungratefulness of this woman for not returning to give thanks, but the Lord checked me. "Is that why you helped her? So that you could be thanked? I thought thanksgiving was supposed to go to Me!"

And of course He was right. I went back in my mind to the place where I had first felt that I had taken care of this woman. Then I asked the Lord to forgive me, and never to allow me to fall into that trap again.

"Lord," I sighed, "Your arm must be tired from picking me up so often."

-Bilquis Sheikh
"I Dared To Call Him Father"
italics mine

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am sitting here with my mouth open! Please tell me that was one of the books you just bought!!!!