“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

—Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

The twangy sound of the Jew’s harp never sounded so good. Maybe it was the setting (an ophthalmologist’s office), or maybe it was the player (a 90-year-old woman). Probably it was a little of both. The whole scene was just so unexpected.

“The doctor wanted me to play Amazing Grace on my Jew’s harp for him,” said the little old lady, sitting down in the crowded waiting room. 

She started talking to no one in particular and everyone all at once. 

“My son-in-law drives a white Cadillac, and he is  coming to pick me up. He’s a good son-in-law. He’s good to me.”

Another person in the small room—one who could see better, said, “OK. We’ll let you know when he is here.”

“Do you want me to play Amazing Grace for you, too?” she asked.

We sure did. This captive audience was ready for  something other than Dr. Phil berating a pathological liar for their bad behavior. The television faded into the background.

The lady started plucking away. I couldn’t see her, of course, as my pupils were dilated the size of an owl’s ready for nighttime hunting. So I kept my eyes closed. I just listened to the twangy mountain music.

I don’t think I could have named that tune if pressed to do so. But it didn’t matter; her enthusiasm was contagious.

“That was awesome!” said a talky, blonde woman named Lenora. Everyone applauded politely. 

More positive comments followed, and people began looking at each other in surprise. The previously stale air had been punctuated by something fresh. We were awake now.

“I can play anything,” she said. “Go ahead, give me a song to play.”

She was taking requests. But before anyone could make one, a man came in the room and walked up to her.

“Time to go! You’ll have to entertain another time,” he said. The white Cadillac had arrived. Strange how no one saw that coming.

No one saw any of it coming…but isn’t that how God often works? Just when we feel at our most miserable, God surprises us by letting us know we are not alone. He is living among us, as Zephaniah 3:17 says.

Once we remember He is near, we can breathe again and dare to hope.

The lady in the waiting room was not finished with us, just because her ride arrived. She tucked the small instrument into her purse, but stayed on task. As her son-in-law guided her through the tight maze of feet, purses, walkers, and canes on the way out, she called, 

“Jesus is coming soon!”

“Amen!” I couldn’t help but join in.

And her final words to us, almost in a whisper, were, “Jesus changes things.”

“Oh! I feel like crying,” Lenora said. “I don’t care what they do to me now.”

That’s right, Lenora, I thought. It’s all relative, and in light of the truth our friend just shared…well, this too shall pass. Needle in the eyeball? No big deal. Dye injected in your arm? So be it! Poking and lights in your sensitive eyes? Whatever!

Jesus is coming soon, and He changes things.

I continued marveling throughout the day at this lady and her ministry. Whether she intended to or not, she had clearly ministered to those around her. Maybe she was always like that. I bet she was! Her faith had just become part of her whole being.

By reminding everyone of Jesus and the bigger picture, she stirred up the Spirit in believers around her. Fear fled, as only the presence of God can make happen. What a surprise God gave us that day!

But why was I so surprised?

Too often, I get lost in my circumstances, in my emotions, or my fear. This is just what the devil wants—the short view. But our attitudes always shift when we step back and take God’s view of our circumstances and what He is working out  through them. He holds eternity in His hands, and He is singing over us as we walk this journey toward Him.

Thank You, God, for Your presence among us. For Your servants who stir up our faith and spur us on. Your Word is sure, and we look forward to Your return. Amen.