Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mercy in a Gift Shop - Marcia Lee Laycock

I received this scripture by email recently -  "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." (Jude 1:21 NKJ)

I was struck by the words, “looking for the mercy.” I believe this is a big part of being a Christ follower – we are to be looking for evidence of His hand everywhere we go, watching for His grace and mercy, looking for signs of His incomparable love. Sometimes we are to be that hand ourselves. 

Some time ago I was in a hospital gift shop, stocking shelves with Christian books. A young woman asked me about the flowers in a nearby display case. Her eyes were hopeful but I had to disappoint her and explain that I did not work in the shop. I was just there to stock the book rack. I pointed to two ladies at a nearby counter. “Maybe they can help,” I said.

She nodded, stared at the flower display and sighed. “I’m not really sure what I want.”

I took note of her dress then – a baseball cap pulled over messy hair; a thin pair of pyjama bottoms topped by a hospital issue housecoat wrapped around a frail frame; pull-on terrycloth slippers, two sizes too big.

“My friend is dying,” she said, then turned back to me. “I am too.”

I put my clipboard down and waited. Her story unfolded in simple language, the words slipping from her mouth almost as though rehearsed. She reached into a pocket and pulled out a picture of her seven year old daughter. I could see the resemblance. She smiled when I mentioned it and went on to say there was a surgery that she was hoping for – highly experimental, there was only one doctor in the country who could do it and he just happened to live in a nearby city. But then her voice fell and I had to lean close to hear. Her friend had had the surgery. She was still dying.

The conversation turned to the word hope then. She had hope they would agree to do the surgery, hope that, unlike her friend, she would recover, hope that she would live to watch her daughter grow up.

She said a pastor came to visit sometimes and “we say our small prayers together. They seem small, just words, but maybe not, eh?” Again that hopeful look in her eyes.

I was praying small prayers right then. She’s so young, Lord. Please. Please.

Then she was gone and I resumed stocking the rack. I do it once a month and in that hospital, the rack is usually almost empty by the time I return. As I filled the pockets with books I was acutely aware of their contents. They hold pages about the love and mercy of Jesus, pages filled with stories of courage and faith, pages of humor to lift a sad heart and inspiration to encourage a weary soul. Pages of hope.

I knew I was sent there that day to do much more than “just stock the book racks,” but my job suddenly seemed important. My other job, as a writer, suddenly seemed essential, “That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.” (Ps. 26:7, KJV).

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Marcia's second novel, A Tumbled Stone has just been released. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers of faith can be downloaded here. Visit Marcia's website