His Eye is on the Sparrow


SPARROW

I had been pacing around the apartment for days.  Once again I walked to the window and peered through the glass, hoping I would see Robert, walking up the sidewalk.  I told myself that it was possible a mistake had been made, and that my brother, as soon as he woke from a coma in the body bag, would slip out of the morgue at the hospital, and just to be funny, come knocking on my front door.  I seriously thought this was possible.

At other moments during the long days at home alone, I sat on the floor, arms curled over my head, just rocking back and forth.  If I denied the truth of my brother’s death long enough, maybe I could somehow undo the last two months.  I felt myself losing ground, though.  My precarious handle on reality was slipping away and a part of me wanted to let it go completely.

Later that week, I sat across from the pastor who had performed the service for Robert.  “Is God real?”  I asked.  “I believe He is very real,” he answered.  “Do you think Robert is in heaven?” I ventured.  I was afraid of this question, more afraid of the answer.  My stomach was at a roiling boil, and I knew the wrong answer would feel like a blow to the gut.

“I think God cares very much about people who are mentally ill,” Wilber answered tentatively.  I didn’t push it.  Just a glimmer of hope was enough for one day.  “I need to find God,” I told him.  “I don’t know how.”  I knew instinctively, for me, in that moment of my life, that if there was no God, I was dead.  I was laying it all on this one man to guide me to Him.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he’s watching me.

-Martin and Gabriel

“Linda, there is a pastor of a church here in town that I think you would like.  I want to talk to him before I send you over there.  Give me a week, ok?”  Fear of rejection filled me as I left his office.  This was unknown territory.

I got the “go-ahead” from Wilber and entered the sanctuary of the small church in El Segundo, California on a beautiful October day in 1975.  I had brought my brother’s widow along for moral support.  Even so, I felt alone.  I grabbed onto her arm and felt myself shaking.  I was sure that the pastor was going to know whom I was and ask me to leave the building.

Everyone looked so nice in his or her Sunday best.  I knew I stuck out like a sore thumb.  At five feet, five inches tall, my eighty-two pounds barely covered my skeleton.  My hair was long and stringy, and my clothes were patched.  The Jesus Movement was going strong in this area of the country but this church was obviously not used to those like me, with my hippie garb and vacant stare.  As the pastor began to speak, my mind raced ahead.  I looked around for the exits.

The pastor was young, close to my age, I thought.  He had looked right at me a couple of times, and I quickly glanced away.  He finally closed his sermon and asked us to bow our heads and close our eyes.  I wanted to be part of this group, this faith.  I didn’t know how to begin and I really didn’t think I would be allowed to belong.  As the last hymn was being sung, the pastor walked down the center aisle and opened the front doors, letting in ocean breeze on shafts of light.  Turning, he waited to greet each parishioner, hugging each one as they said goodbye.  I made it to the door, looking for an escape route through the crowd.  Pastor Don was not about to let that happen.  He grabbed me by the shoulders, gave me a big hug and said, “We’re so happy you are here with us, Linda!”  I forced myself to look up at his face.  I saw compassion and concern. My legs felt funny, and I swallowed hard, nodding at him.

That next week I ruminated.  I feared that once Pastor Don knew more about me, he would regret being so welcoming.  I wrote him a letter.  I told him about how mentally ill I was, how messed up my life was, how I was living with my boyfriend, too ill to live on my own.  I told him about my brother, and about my broken heart. I told him I didn’t think I could come back to his church, but I wanted to.   I slipped the letter under the church doors and ran home. I wanted to get the rejection over with.

Later that afternoon, I got a phone call from Pastor Don.  He told me that he had spent the morning making phone calls and gathering the people of his little church together to fast and pray for me the following Tuesday.  He invited me to be there but told me he understood if I didn’t feel I could make it.  They would be praying for me anyway.

I felt as if someone had handed me a life raft.  I could only cling to the side right now, and attempt to hang on to the ropes.  I had no strength to climb in.   The sea was too rough, and I would be tossed about for a very long time.  But there were others now, grabbing my hands, lifting me up every time I was about to sink.  And sometimes, when I came closer to drowning than He would like, God Himself would step in and take it from there.

25 comments on “His Eye is on the Sparrow

  1. sunfiredove@yahoo.com on said:

    Long? :0)

  2. Have you ever been able to give your testimony verbally, with voice to an individual or a group gathered at a local street mission? If you haven’t you ought to look into it. Street people and the homeless can relate to your testimony sometimes better than one who hasn’t experienced mental illness and loneliness. I look forward to hearing more of the story.

    • Hi there! Thanks for stopping by! I have given my testimony to women and teens, but never to groups such as street people and the homeless. I just gave part of my story in front of a group at the state NAMI conference last week, but it was not a Christian testimony. I am always looking for open doors!

  3. I am fighting tears on this one, Linda. What a blessing Don and Luann were to you at this turning point of your journey and it was like I had to take a deep breath because now I know this was the beginning of deliverance though I know there is so much more……..love you my friend!!

    • Dixie, I truly believe with everything in me that the Lord guided me to Don and Luann’s church, and that if it wouldn’t have been for them, I would not even be alive today, let alone be where I am in my life today. I am eternally grateful to them, God knows…

      • Luann Long on said:

        Linda,
        I am humbled to read how Don reached out to you. Don was very private as far as sharing people’s struggles. He rarely shared those things with me. I never knew about the letter. One thing I and many others loved about Don was his love for others. I have met very few people or pastors like him. He had a way of loving people with no strings and was very sincere. I loved that about him. For me, I just loved and cared about you.Linda. I didn’t know much about your story until now. I feel honored God would allow us to be apart of your life and I am so proud of you that you chose to walk the walk. We may have had a part of introducing you to Jesus but you chose and id walk the walk. I was always so proud how you followed to each church. You are beautiful inside and out.
        Love you too Dixie and I am so glad for your investment into Linda’s life too.

        Bless you both,
        Luann

        • Luann, you are so right, and your words made me cry. But you, oh humble one, have no idea what you were doing back then. God knows though, and you will be greatly rewarded. ;o) I love you so much, my friend!

  4. Luann the feelings are mutual….I have always felt and appreciated Lindas deep love for you and it still brings tears to my eyes how God used you in her life so miraculously. What she says is true….without you moving in His love with her she would not be where she is today….this is true community and the true body in motion….I have never meant another true Pastor like Don, either. I know he wasn’t perfect but I loved how he loved…..bless you!!! Oh and congrats on that new adorable baby!!!

  5. I am glad God lead you to those who truly knew his Love and wanted it for others. No matter how bad things get God is waiting for us. I look forward to reading how you healed and about the love that was lavished upon you!

  6. Nancy Bryant on said:

    I remember when I met you, you had such a gentle smile. So blessed that we were friends and sisters in Him. I agree, Don and Luann were my first pastors after I received the Lord, and I have never met anyone like them in all the churches I have attended. They were very special, and a gift to be cherished.

    • Yes….and I will never forget you either, Nancy! You played a part in my healing as well (remember the woman in Palos Verdes)?

      • Nancy Bryant on said:

        Gerry (Geraldine?) Yes, she was a blessing from the Lord for you! She seemed to understand you and what you were going through.

  7. A wonderful testament of how God will work in one’s life. We never know what plans God has at the moment. So many years of His divine plans revealed. But what I marvel at is how He planned and orchestrated but you took the steps. What strength

    • Jane, I truly believe (and from what I’ve noticed since) that I had but two choices to make…end my life or depend upon Jesus to get me through each “next” moment. I’ve seen others who have not been so desperate, and therefore continued to just muddle through life without growing. That is hard to watch. Thanks for “stopping by!”

  8. Linda, I so enjoy your posts. I know you and I were meant to connect due to our similar circumstances. God’s eye is always on the sparrow, thankfully. I am thankful that He has never left me and I know He is walking beside you as well. xoxo to you.

  9. Hello Linda. I’m new to blogging… only started a few weeks ago. I am so very moved by stories such as yours and I look forward to reading more. Thank you for your sincerity.

  10. Thanks for sharing Linda. I am a friend of Dixie’s and she suggested I read your story. I am a new blogger myself so I appreciate your transparency. God is so good and faithful to use our greatest wounds to bring Him glory when we are healed and then He shows us off to others as to what only He can do. God bless you and your ministry.

  11. Oh, don’t stop there! What a powerful story – and clearly there’s more of it to come. Thankyou for sharing this. God is good.

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