I didn’t want to be alone on the evening of day that marked nine months since Terrie died. As I was driving home, I decided I would eat out, but I was not really hungry for any particular type of food, except I had wanted some chocolate cream pie. I didn’t want to go to the pie restaurant because I didn’t want their meal before the pie. So, I stopped at Golden Corral instead. I know, fine dining at its best, right?
At least, I knew I could get a variety of food types and be able to do some people watching. I gave them something to gander upon as well. I chose an out of the way table for two that would give me a good point of observation.
The other table for two had a plate of partially eaten food, cups, a vest on the back of the chair, and a lone crutch leaning against the partition. The occupant of the table was currently elsewhere.
I grabbed a plate and strolled the food line, not excited about anything in particular. When I got to the end, I realized I would have to pick something. The “something” ended up being a grilled pork chop, which might have been good a half hour sooner, some yellow squash (it was a vegetable), mashed potatoes and a dinner roll.
I went back to my table, prayed, and as I raised my head, I noticed the occupant of the crutch table had returned. He was an elderly man, fairly tall in his younger days, but his body forced him into a bending forward stance. He was of medium build and had thinning gray hair. His clothing was unremarkable, except for the orthopedic sandal he wore on his right foot. Thus, the reason for the crutch.
He sat facing me, which made me somewhat uncomfortable, because I didn’t want to be caught by him, observing him.
It seemed if his motor skills were not at full capacity. Perhaps a stroke had altered his stance and his abilities, I don’t know, but he was alone as well and he interested me. He had been away from the table for a sometime and apparently, in his absence, his waitress removed something from the table that seemed to perturb him.
His waitress approached his table. He slide his coffee cup horizontally off the table, in gesture and look in his eyes that made me think of Charles Dickens ‘Oliver Twist’ famous line, “Please Sir, I want some more.” She ignored him and moved to another table to do some sweeping.
Just after this exchange, my waitress stopped and asked me if I needed anything. I said, “No, Ma’am, but I think this gentlemen needs some coffee.” She said she would get him some. She must have mentioned to his waitress because she returned with coffee.
6 When Jesus saw the man and knew that he had been sick for such a long time, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be well?”
7 The sick man answered, “Sir, there is no one to help me get into the pool when the water starts moving. While I am coming to the water, someone else always gets in before me.”
8 Then Jesus said, “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.” John 5:6-8 NCV
As I watched him eat his strawberries, I wondered what his life was like. Was he a widower as well? Did he have anyone to show him kindness and love? Did he have the peace of God and God’s peace in his life? Did he have any joy in his life?
He reminded me of one of my favorite passages from John 5. Jesus came to the Bethesda pool one day. The blind, the crippled, and the paralyzed would come to the pool in hope of being healed by being first in the water when the water was stirred by the Holy Spirit.
There was a man there who had been crippled for thirty-eight years. The passage indicates he had tried to make to the water, but he could not get up in time before some else entered the water.
That day, the crippled man had favor with the Lord. Jesus changed this man’s life by healing him.
I would have liked for the man with the lone crutch to have been healed, but until he is, perhaps the Lord will use him to remind someone, like me, that the Lord can show up at any time and say, “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.”