After a two-hour drive, minus one pit-stop, my friend and I pulled up to the church in a strange town where in another month’s time we would be conducting a workshop for the women of my denomination. It had not been a good morning so far. The gas pump ran out of gas. so I grumbled as I had to pay $2.24 and then get in the car, back around, go to another gas station and fill the car the rest of the way. Then, It seemed that every slow driver in a 100 mile radius had descended on the highway in front of me. Grrr. And of course, every traffic light turned red just as I pulled up. And, when my bladder told me I probably should stop at a convenience store before arriving at the church, I grumbled again. “Sorry, I told my friend. I hate to be late, but…”
I decided to get a cup of coffee, because it seemed rude to use the facilities and not buy something. Besides, there was no one else at the counter, so what was another thirty seconds, right? But, of course, I had to wait for the cashier to get more change, As he tapped the bankers roll of quarters, my lips curled into a smile. But my mind screamed, Hurry, hurry.
But, at last we arrived at the church grounds. I looked at my dashboard clock. Five minutes to spare. I asked my friend who rode shotgun, “How could that be when I’ve been running late all morning?”
As we got out of the car, I noticed a woman sitting on a bench under a tree. At first I thought she might be one of the ladies we were supposed to meet to go over the logistics of the workshop. Maybe she was early, too and didn’t have a key. I said, “Hi”.
The woman’s shoulders almost folded into her torso. She gave me a quick glance, then her eyes darted back to her hands. ”It’s so peaceful here. Is it okay if I just sit?”
It was then I noticed her red nose and eyes. She was crying. I looked at my friend. I think we both sensed that if the two of us approached this distraught person, it might overwhelm her. My friend discovered the door was unlocked, nodded, and slipped inside.
I walked over to the crying young woman and asked if I could pray with her. She shrugged. “I guess.”
She appeared uncomfortable. So, I told her I was visiting from out-of-town and gave her my first name. Her face relaxed a bit, as if she was relieved I might not know someone who knew her, the way small towns often work. She gave me her first name. I sat beside her, put my arm around her and held her. SIlently, I asked the Holy Spirit to give me the words to say out loud that would comfort her. I heard the message, “Tell her I love her.I always have and I always will.”
As I prayed that, I felt her body ease. After I said, “Amen.”, she whispered, “Thanks. How did you know what to pray for?”
I blinked back my own tears. ”God did that. He told me what to pray. Trust me, He loves you more than you can ever imagine. He will never, ever stop, no matter what. So, hang in there, okay?”
As I walked into the church meeting hall, a sudden surge of humility flooded me. I was on God’s schedule, not my own. By His grace, I arrived just in time to meet this young woman, and pray with her. I thanked God for orchestrating my journey just right so as to put me there when He did– especially after the frustrations of the morning.
I will continue to pray for that young woman until God tells me I no longer need to do so. I don’t know why she was crying. I didn’t think it was up to me to ask. But God knew, and He used me to reach into her heart and offer her a ray of hope by giving me the words she needed to hear.
Despite everything else that went wrong that day, He turned it to good by giving me five minutes to spare.
What will He give you today to let you know He is there, and He cares?