What started as day filled with personal pitfalls and exhaustion was supposed to end in a casual evening with friends, enjoying the voices of children, and possibly ending with a nice glass of something mellowing while chit chatting in a back yard or deck.
That wasn’t God’s plan. Apparently.
We stood in a busy room and I listened to a litany of pain, questioning God’s will, hoping for a shred of hope. As the conversation continued in the darkness of an emptying parking lot we held each other through a shared understanding of a shared confusion and, in soft words under velvet starlit night, we put our arms around our sister and petitioned a kind God on her behalf.
Love does that.
Driving home, as the debrief of an interesting evening bounced off the dashboard and we tried to be gentle in our explanation of how those who once professed undying love and affection, enduring bonds of friendship still considered us a threat and worth continuing to warn others away from our home, our presence, our words… Explanations seemed empty. And the boy had heard all the excuses before. He knew what we weren’t saying. He knew what had been done.
Love doesn’t do that…
A hunger for ice cream and cake balls led us to the 24 hour temple of indulgence known as Walmart and while we hemmed and hawed over Moose Tracks or Cookie Dough, Sherbet or Sorbet, God was drawing her across a dark parking lot until, our bags swinging from careless fingers a voice came, muffled, from beside our car.
“Do you know where Saving Grace is?”
What? The Sav…. Ooh… Her disheveled face, baggy sweatshirt, rumpled hair, and quiet pain rattled me. I looked quickly at my husband, realized he had no idea what she was talking about and immediately called my friend.
“Hey, sorry to bother you so late, but do you know the number to Saving Grace? Call Brian, my phone is almost dead.” With a click she was gone and i looked up into hazel eyes, red and puffy with crying…
“I can’t fix this,” I thought to myself in a moment of frantic inadequacy.
“My husband kicked me out and we just moved here from Yakima, WA and we don’t know anyone. I don’t have any gas and I don’t know where to go. My mom took the kids, I don’t have any gas. I just need some help…” Her voice trailed off as the pressure to keep it all together washed away her strength to tell the story again. Her hope that we would be kind was etched across tired features made all the more stark by the glaring, unyielding lights above us.
I found the number and wrote it down on the back of a Costco receipt, making sure to include my name and number… “Call me sometime, ok? ” I feebly offered, feeling foolish and ridiculous as I said it. Seriously? She won’t call me.
But God wasn’t done and He wouldn’t let me be done either.
Looking at my husband I asked, “Can we put gas in her tank?” He nodded quickly and I asked her if she’d let us do that for her. Caught off guard, she mumbled, “Sure… If you don’t mind.”
“Get in your car. Follow us to the gas station.”
At this point, even though I knew what we were doing was right I still remained somewhat suspicious that she was panhandling… Cynical from so many cries for help from people who had no need, only selfish ambition and greed , I struggle with gracious giving.
As we drove across the parking lot toward her I realized she had walked almost 100 yards across black pavement, late at night, asking person after person for help. Until she ran into a our little family carrying ice cream and raving about cake balls… A small group who saw a person and responded.
We went to Walmart for dessert. God led us there for her.
Gas in her tank, $20 in her hand to make sure she had something to eat, the number for Saving Grace in her pocket and a quick conversation where I got her name, held her hand while she wept behind the wheel of that giant Suburban, and asked her to please call me next week so I’d know how she was, we got in our cars and drove our separate ways.
We prayed for her on the way home. Because that’s what love does… In spite of the scars left by broken promises and shattered relationships. Because we live in a world where those who call upon the name of Christ are often those least likely to extend love we gave.
For greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his…
It was only a few bucks. Less than dinner and a movie. But she gasped when she read the meter on the gas tank and clutched tightly to the single bill I gave for food….
STOP (full confession… This took longer than 5 minutes. But I desperately needed to share it. Not because I need the affirmation but because the story must be told.)
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes!!