When Clara entered the room, you knew she was there. She had a raspy voice and profanities flew out everywhere. She was loud, and she was abrupt. She was the cleaning lady that worked for the apartment complex I was managing years ago. She was rough around the edges, but boy could she clean! Her hard life showed on her face. The abuse she had endured for years had taken its toll, and it was apparent, she would not let anyone hurt her. Her guard was always up. She worked tirelessly to raise her teenage son, and she was devoted to him. Her husband left her, and she was alone. Her life was her son. Everyone tried to steer clear of Clara, but I always had such a soft place in my heart for her. She would always end up in my office, challenging me about this so called “Jesus” I served. She loved to talk about how she would never become a Christian. She thought Christians were fake, mean, and full of deceit. I always prayed for Clara, everyday, and I always asked the Lord to show me how to lead her to Him...what could I say? His response to me was always....”don’t say anything Lisa....just love her.” She was a hard person to love on some days, but at the end of the day, she always ended up talking to me about her life. Some days her pain was so evident.
I will never forget when I got the phone call. On the other end of the line was a family member of Clara’s explaining to me that Clara’s son had just been killed in a car wreck. It was a horrific accident. My heart sank. In fact I remember sitting there for about an hour after I hung up the phone just staring at the wall, praying. What should I do? What could I do? What words could be said? I spent that sleepless night praying for Clara, and as I kept asking the Lord what to do, I so clearly heard in my heart....”make pot roast!” Yes, I know....comedy at a time like this? “Lord, seriously....what can I do?” And again, I heard....”Make pot roast!”. Hmmm, now this was a first for me in many areas. I had never heard the Lord tell me to make pot roast, and I had never even made pot roast!!! Really?
I got up early the next morning, and I went to the store and I bought 4 of the biggest pot roasts I could find with all the trimmings. This was going to be interesting to say the least! For a solid day, I made pot roast. I found my Grandma’s recipe, and I prayed over those pot roasts and dove in! If there ever was going to be an annointed pot roast this would be it!
Thinking that the Lord was going to give me some eloquent words for this family as I brought them pot roast, I approached the front door. Clara opened the door....just as I asked the Lord to give me the words, and as quickly as He said "pot roast", was as quickly as He said....”Lisa, don’t say a word.” Clara took the pot roasts from my arms, sat them down and grabbed me. She held me for what seemed like an eternity, and she cried from a part of her soul that I could tell had never been reached before. I also felt those cries shoot right up to heaven. Jesus loved Clara so much....Jesus had a plan for Clara, and pot roast would only be the seed planted to begin His mighty work.
My words were few to Clara that day....there were mostly just tears. A lot of tears. I did look over Clara’s shoulder and see a room full of people diving into the pot roast, and I saw the look on their faces. I felt so helpless to know what to do or say at such a heartbreaking time like this. So I just prayed. I prayed that God would work a miracle for this family. All I could do was plant a small seed. And boy did pot roast seem so small to me in light of such a huge tragedy.
Clara never came back to clean after her son died. In fact I didn’t even see Clara again after that day. I always prayed for Clara, and always wondered what happened to her. Would I ever know?
I was checking my emails one morning, and there was one that stood out to me. It was from “Pot Roast Clara”. What? Was this a virus? I laughed, but by the time I finished the letter....my laughs were tears streaming down my face. It was Clara! My cleaning lady Clara! But she was no longer a cleaning lady. She worked (are you ready for this?) at a church where she prepared meals for home bound people, and people who were ill in the church. Her specialty? Pot Roast! (Thus the name Pot Roast Clara!)
As Clara and I emailed and talked back and forth over the next few weeks I cannot tell you how my life changed. What I felt was such an insignificant seed planted that day, changed a life. God did the watering through others, through leaders, through events He orchestrated....and she came to Jesus in a way I cannot even describe. I asked her what changed her life? Her voice began to crack and she said....”It was the pot roast.” She went on to say that it was what was “not spoken” to her on that day that changed her entire thinking about Jesus.
She said “Lisa, you were the only one who came, you were the only one who made a meal, you were the only one who didn’t preach to us with big words. You were just there, and you loved us just the way we were, curse words and all. She went on to say that it was one day as she was eating a sandwich made out of the pot roast....she accepted the Lord into her heart. She said it was quiet, it was sweet, and it was real. And bless her heart, she said she never uttered a word of profanity after that roast beef sandwich!
At this point I am in one of those “ugly cries”....you know the kind you can’t breathe and stuff is running out your nose, eyes and mouth....it isn’t pretty. Oh, but it felt so good! I remember those days when I felt Clara was unreachable.....but God didn’t!
That day changed my thinking. I realized that every seed I planted mattered. No seed was too small. I may not see the harvest, but God was busy watering the seed, and that seed would grow! Just because I may not see the harvest didn’t mean it wasn’t there!
I also learned that day that it wasn’t many times my words that would lead others to Him, it was what I didn’t say. It was what I lived. One of my favorite quotes is
“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.”
When I think about it, some of the times I have been touched the most have been when I have watched a person live out loud, and love out loud. Loving out loud may begin with the smallest seed....a hug, a smile, shared time....but what ends up is a miracle! The harvest! A symphony! And sometimes even a pot roast!
Happy seed planting!