“Quick, get the ring off!” That was the thought that began my journey to meeting the Sandbox Man.

I knew my ring finger was broken the moment my hand hit the floor after tripping on the side of the bed. Being thankful no one saw my ungraceful fall, I rushed to the bathroom to get hot water and soap on it so I could get the engagement and wedding rings off before the swelling made it impossible to do. I had visions of urgent care having to cut through the rings because the swelling was prohibiting circulation. And that was not an option – those rings represent the love I have for my husband and the vows we took before God and I was not willing to let the enemy symbolically cut that covenant in half.

After an x-ray confirmed it was broken, the treatment plan included time for healing and then hand therapy. Hand therapy seemed kind of funny to me. Leg, arm, shoulder therapy, yes, but hand?! If you think about it, though, look how many things we do with them, how much life is produced with them. So, doing whatever you need to do to get them back into full working order seemed appropriate.

As I walked into the waiting room at the first appointment, my eyes were drawn to an older man with a commanding presence. He was about 6’1’’, thin but strong and looked to be about 70. I surmised he worked outside and with some sort of engines or mechanics because his face was tanned and worn with many sun lines and his hands were very rough with what looked like grease in the creases and around his fingernails. At the same time my brain was thinking “He looks angry”, my feet were moving me to an empty chair right next to where he was seated. As I sat down, we locked eyes, he nodded, and I smiled.

After getting called back and seeing the therapist, I was ushered to a room I called the sandbox. In it were all the tools they used to help people regain full use of their hands and fingers – things you squeezed, things you handled and moved with your fingers, various items with weights on them and the sandbox – a box filled with sand on top of a table with about 5 chairs around it. You simply sat there and dug deep into the sand with your affected hand. There were people at all the stations working through their various tasks.

I was directed to the sandbox and there he was. The man from the waiting room.   I sat down across from him; he nodded, and I smiled. He still looked mad and I didn’t know what to say so we completed our sand regiment with no further interaction.

At the second appointment, I walked to the sandbox and there he was again. This time though, he didn’t look as daunting so as we sat there, I struck up a conversation. I mentioned how awkward it was that two grown people were spending time in the middle of the day playing in the sand. He grinned and agreed. That smile touched a happy spot in my heart.

I found out lots about him that day. He was a mechanic with his own shop and had severely injured his hand in an accident there. Even though he appeared harsh and gruff, he spoke fondly of his family – his wife who had some medical issues and his sons and grandchildren. The sons worked with him and he was teaching them his craft. One son was doing great but the other was having some life difficulties and he was having to guide and direct a couple of his grandchildren.

There was anguish and anxiousness over his current inability to provide for his family because of this serious injury.

As we spoke back and forth, I clearly knew God was wanting me to pray for him. To be honest, I was intimidated. He seemed so much wiser and more determined than I was and he clearly knew way more about life than I did. I felt very ill-equipped to pray for him.

Besides, we were in public! What would the other people in the room think?!

As I was stalling and trying to work through in my head how to pray for him without drawing attention, he left.

Can I just tell you how disappointed I was in myself? God asked me to pray, I had stalled and now I felt like I had let them both down because I was relying on my own ability rather than the Lord’s and was overly concerned with how the world would react to Jesus.   I had enough history with God to know that when He asks you to do something, He gives all the grace and supply needed to accomplish the task but now he was gone. I asked for forgiveness, asked God to bless him and please give this man what he needed.

Evidently, prayer was part of what he still needed.

Appointment number three and yep, you are correct – there he was again. We began to speak and this time, the feeling to pray for him was even stronger and I didn’t care who was in the room. I asked if I could pray for him, hoping he wouldn’t reject the opportunity for God to show him He was there. When he said yes, I took his injured hand in my hands, closed my eyes (because closing my eyes sometimes helps me “hear” God better!) and began to pray. I remember thanking God for him, for the love he had towards his family and for the skill and determination the Lord had given him in his life’s work. I asked God to restore his hand, to restore his livelihood and to give him even more grace to deal with his family situation. There was more but I don’t remember it all.

When we finished praying, I opened my eyes and this big, hardened, determined man had tears in his eyes as he looked straight at me and said thank you.

We never had the same appointment time again and I have no idea whether God healed his hand or not. What I do know though, is that a divine exchange happened between him and the Lord that day.

As for me, I got reminded that obedience in the moment is a blessing. What an honor it is to be present when the Lord touches one of His children.

And P.S, scrutiny from the “public” in the room, never came.

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