As I opened her Bible this morning, I turned to a familiar verse and found it underlined with a note beside it: II Chronicles 7:9. "For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."
The note in her familiar handwriting states simply: "I want this to be true in my life, Lord."
When we are going through tough times, it helps to remember that His eye is upon us, giving us what we need just when we need it.
Such was the case of a heartbroken woman in Starbucks on Broadway at 51st Street. The warm lighting and ambiance was an inviting attraction for people seeking relief from the cold. The voice of John, the pianist rose from the chatter of after-work New Yorkers and the hubbub behind the counter. As John sang he noticed a voice joining in with him. As he looked, a nearby woman had closed her eyes and was absently singing along. The song ended with some polite applause.
"I hope you didn't mind my joining in," said the woman apologetically.
"No, no," said John. "Glad to have the company. Would you like to sing something yourself?"
She looked unsure.
"What are you in the mood to sing?" encouraged John.
"Do you know any hymns?" she asked.
John's face lit into a smile. "I cut my teeth on hymns. Name one."
"Oh, I don't know," she hesitated. "You pick one."
"How about 'His Eye is on the Sparrow?'"
For a moment, she was quiet, her eyes averted, then she nodded, saying softly: "Yeah. Let's do that one."
The woman stood. Her voice, strong and melodic, floated above the hissing and gurgling of the cappuccino maker and the clatter of chatter. The new voice caught the customers' attention. It was beautiful. The cafe began to quiet.
The woman was now one with the music. John's keyboard accompaniment was one with her.
The song became louder or maybe it was because a hush fell over the crowd. The machines stopped.
"I sing because I'm happy.
"I sing because I'm free.
"For His eye is on the sparrow
"And I know He watches me."
The song ended and applause crescendoed to a deafening level. Shyly she thanked her audience and turned to John with a soft smile.
"That was beautiful," he said.
"Well ... it's funny you picked that particular hymn," she said.
Moisture glistened in her eyes as she reached to shake John's hand-holding it, then squeezing it.
"That was my daughter's favorite song. She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week."
John looked at her, momentarily stunned. "Are you going to be OK?"
"Yes, I've just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing His songs, and everything's gonna be OK."
God's eye is surely on the sparrow, as His word Proclaims, but God's arm was around a woman hurting with grief. He gave her hope and reassurance that cold November day.
Happenings like this are not coincidence. My son, Jim and I were driving back from visiting my mom in the Summersville hospital last week. As we neared exit 67 in Flatwoods, Jim wanted to see where my daughter Kristin had made her departure to Heaven. We pulled over momentarily as I showed him a monument of stones someone piled to the side of the road. I don't know if it was for Kristin, but we sat silent. Pulling out into traffic again, we were both lost in thought and I turned on the radio.
"I've had just enough time," crooned The Band Perry in "If I die Young" was playing, and this just happened to be one of two songs played at her funeral. We looked at each other and smiled. Yeah, she had "just enough time" to change the world. No coincidence at that moment, but rather, a God hug.
When we suffer deeply from the loss of someone we love dearly, God works to give us hope. At times like this, for many of you and our family included, we wonder how we can possibly continue. But, God puts His hand on our shoulders, consoling us, letting us know that our existence is not in vain.
Someday we will see everything from His perspective, and we'll understand. Our loved ones have graduated. Someday, we will graduate.
Remember, as the holiday season is here and hurting hearts feel the pain so much more: His Eye is On the Sparrow, and you can know that you are so much more than the sparrow to Him. You can know He watches you.
(Kimberly Morgan, of Elkins, is the co-founder of Kristin's Hope with her husband, Jamie. She is also counselor and chaplain at Cornerstone Counseling. She can be reached at 304-637-1109.)