Watching them board the bus I was riding, my eyes filled with tears seeing the broken bodies struggling to climb the few short steps up from the street. Every single person struggling to make that climb was disabled to one degree or another. Some were blind, some were deaf, some suffered from mental illness that left them rambling to themselves unaware of the world around them. Many had to be lifted in their wheelchairs, via a special contraption at the back of the bus designed for exactly this purpose. Some were deaf and spoke with exaggerated enunciation in voices too loud for "normal" societal norms.
I had fallen a few weeks earlier and broken my foot, leading me to ride the handicapped bus service so that I could get to work. I had no idea what I was getting into. I had always enjoyed complete ease of motion and took it for granted that everyone did. Of course, in the back of my mind, I knew there were handicapped people out there. But, I had never been confronted with the stark reality of their existence so clearly as I was today, riding this bus for the first time.
I strained to watch as each broken body passed in front of my eyes. I did not want to see what I was seeing. The reality of pain, suffering and broken, often abandoned, human beings was shooting through me from every direction. These are people who we don't often see "messing up" our perfect world. Some how, I had managed to live well into adulthood without seeing them hardly at all. Now, I couldn't help but see what God had placed right before my eyes on this beautiful, late summer day.
I couldn't take it anymore, I told myself. My eyes were filling with tears watching this scene unfold.
Sitting on the inside seat, close to a window, I decided to refocus my vision outside the bus - away from this heartbreak. And then it happened. Shifting my attention to the beautiful farm land that surrounded us on our journey that day, I watched as field after field of ripened corn passed before me. It was harvest time in the bountiful fields of the Midwest. Suddenly, without warning, I heard the words of the scripture, so well known to me, echo in my ears: "The fields are ripe unto harvest, but the laborers are few..." Luke 10:2
Right there, on that bus, in the company of these broken and wounded children of God, I began to weep before my God. I knew He was calling me to serve these that were dear to Him, but far from my heart. I knew it beyond the shadow of a doubt.
I wish I could say I answered His call immediately. I did not. I spent a lot of time arguing with Him. Surely, He had the wrong girl. Surely, He understood that I just couldn't do this. Surely, surely, surely...
It took me over four years to come to obey this call from the God I love. Amazing... I have learned that He is able to deal with all my protests, all my resistance, all my stubborn running the other way. Like Jonah, I learned that He is able to put me where He wants me, until I am ready to obey.
Today, as I bow my knee to Him, I know what it is to be "in the belly of the whale" until I am ready to go where He sends me. I have learned that He is God and I am not. I only wish I had learned it sooner...