We were seated in a circle, our bottoms in seats made of gray plastic and shiny chrome metal. There were ones with arms and ones without. I prefer the withouts; they have a bar across the bottom where I can rest my feet and turn my lap into a desk. I do not need the arms, they make me feel confined. We gather weekly to discuss the King and study His Word. We are intimately acquainted with one another. When you pray regularly with the same people, your heart gets knitted with theirs. Nothing bonds one soul to another like prayer.
She was seated diagonal and across from me; if I were seated at 12 o’clock in that chair circle, she would have been at 4 o’clock. She tends to like the arm chairs. She is older, has a beautiful smile, and always greets others with a kind word.
That particular morning we were discussing Myanmar. A country I was only vaguely familiar with. The Map Lover of our group was holding her hands in the air drawing imaginary places with her hands,
“If India is here, then Burma, Myanmar is here.” Many nodded their heads in recognition. I shook mine. Geography never has been my strength. I am more of a craft-kind-of gal. The Map Lover tried again to explain; clearly she saw a puzzled look on my face.
The 4 o’clock-no-arm-chair occupant placed her handbag in her lap. I thought she would pull out a crumpled tissue or maybe a mint. As I said, she is older and I doubted heavily there were any novelties of adventure in that bag. If it’d’ve been my purse she were holding, she could have reached in and pulled out a pen, a pencil, a permanent marker, a half eaten candy bar, a lint covered mint that lost its packaging, who knows when.
If she were holding my purse she could have pulled out a ziplock bag of change designated for drink and snack vending machines, a plethora of long ago expired coupons, a receipt or two that were at least half my height from that store that must pride itself on giving long receipts with lots of words and savings after the total.
If it were my purse, she could have pulled out a wallet so unorganized and bulging with random things that it garnishes comments every time I actually pull it out to pay, I rarely do that because it takes nearly 5 minutes to cram it back into my purse and something always falls onto the floor when I do so.
If she were digging around in my handbag, and not her own she could have pulled out a few pieces of makeup, a spoon fork thing (a spork), and 3 stray dollar bills.
She wasn’t holding my purse though, she was holding hers, and she carefully unfolded a piece of paper and said, “Here, I have a map of India.”
She pointed and then moved her hand to the right and said “Here is Myanmar.” She passed it to the left and it made its way around the circle. When it got to 12 o’clock, my seat, I held it gingerly in my hands, the crease marks indicative of numerous unfoldings and refoldings. I rubbed my hands over the paper, made soft by time and use. I marveled at the names of the countries, some familiar, some not, and I knew in that moment why she had that map. How she was able to pull it from her handbag as naturally as if it were a tissue or other items found in the depths of a woman’s accessory for necessities.
She is a prayer warrior, (those exact words were used to describe her just yesterday by the Map Lover). She has that map because she prays for those people who live in those far away places. People she has never seen and likely will not ever visit.
She is visual and I have no doubt as she is praying she places her hand over those places as she petitions the King on their behalf. She is a Promise Keeper and when she promises she will pray she does.
I ain’t even gonna lie… I had realization in that moment as I passed the paper to my left so it could make its way back to its owner, who just as carefully as she had opened it, closed it and put it back in her handbag. I pondered the contents of the heart reflected in my purse and the contents of hers, also reflected in her handbag. As the conversation moved on and the subject changed, I held back, pondering on the people I do not see or know personally and how the King has declared we are to go to all nations.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Not all can go, but all can pray and I was challenged to do that very thing. To pray for people I may not ever meet in places that I do not know. But knowing that matters not, for the King knows them and He loves them too.