As we were headed to our car today at the church, I noticed a lady sitting by herself on the sidewalk.
My daughter and I approached the lady to make sure she was okay. She shared how she’d gotten into an argument with her friend at the gas station. She saw the church across the street and walked over to it. She didn’t know where else to go, but she knew she had to walk away. She’d grown up Baptist, and the church parking lot seemed like a safe place to go.
The argument stemmed from giving away a puppy in the parking lot instead of asking the people to pay for it. She wanted the dog to have a forever home. Her friend needed money to continue their travels north.
As we sat in the empty parking lot, the lady shared a bit of her life story, and we prayed together before she agreed to let me take her back to the gas station.
As she got out of our car at the gas station, I handed her a post-it note with my phone number on it. I told her to call me if she ever needed help, to talk, or to pray. My daughter rolled down the window and offered her a Gideon New Testament Bible.
We asked if we could invite them to join us for lunch and pray over them together for safe travels. Her companion quickly shut the door in my face upon hearing the offer of prayer.
As we drove away, my heart sank for the story I had heard and the lady I was leaving behind.
Just the evening before, our plans for the weekend had been altered. We had originally planned to go to a Christmas parade in another town with some friends Saturday night. When they became unable to go, we decided to look at Christmas lights in town instead. Shortly before embarking on that adventure, I learned about a local church hosting “Walk Thru Bethlehem”. We changed plans again.
At the end of the event, they offered us each a Gideon New Testament Bible. I told my daughter to leave it behind for someone else, reminding her she already had four of them at home.
“I want to give it to someone,” she said insistently.
Not knowing who she’d give it to, but proud of her desire to share God’s Word, I agreed to let her take it.
Shortly before making the decision to go on the Bethlehem adventure, we received an invitation to join our Women’s Ministry today at the Nutcracker ballet . We were both eager to go see it. Our first mommy-daughter date in ages with women we adore!
About 30 minutes into the first act of the ballet, my cell phone rang twice with the same number I didn’t recognize. I messaged, “We are at the ballet. I can’t talk. Can you TXT?”
The message responded, “It’s me. At the gas station. My friend left me. I need help.”
I whispered in my nine year old’s ear, “The lady we met on the sidewalk at the church needs our help. Do you want to stay at the ballet with our church friends or leave with me?”
She left with me, and we headed across town.
At the gas station, the woman sat in my car for over an hour. She cried. She shared parts of her story that were broken and raw. She shared her dreams. We talked about how she was baptized at age 8 but hasn’t been in church in a while. We talked about her favorite Bible verses. We talked about how she often feels alone. We talked about how God is always there and will always provide for us.
I shared the story of how God changed our path just the day before to place a Gideon Bible in our car.
Tears came to her eyes.
“The same Bible you gave me. The one I placed the post-it in, and placed in my pocket. I don’t even have an ID with me, but I have the Bible. God knew I would need to call you,” she said.
Over the course of about an hour, we talked a lot more about how God knows our past, walks with us in our present, and has great plans for our future. We talked about possibilities for her future. We talked about God and reading his Word and getting back in church.
Three hours after abandoning her at the gas station, full of anger, her friend returned to pick her up.
I don’t know what’s next for her or where her future may go, but I know God brought her to our church for a reason. I know she has a Bible with her now, and I know we both saw how God was right there beside both of us today. Our days didn’t go how either of us planned them when we got of bed this morning, but they went exactly how God needed them to go.
We serve an amazing God. He’s there in the tiny moments when we don’t see Him. He’s there in the sad moments when we don’t want to trust His will and timing. He’s there in the depressed moments when we are focused on hurt pride instead of blessings. He’s there guiding our steps and providing for us. I’m thankful I got to watch Him work through us today to help someone find her way back to seeing Him.