The Unexpected Messenger
My devotions this morning reminded me God will never abandon us. He is with us always. It reminded of a bizarre incident that happened years ago. My third husband was in the hospital...
I stayed until way past visiting hours, leaving my husband's bedside only when the night shift insisted I go home. As I rode the elevator down to the ground floor, I fought back the tears, the fatigue, the sense of hopelessness. The cancer had spread, already encompassing one quarter of his brain. The prognosis was six weeks.
I stepped outside into a biting wind, heavily scented with fresh snow. Maybe, with a little luck I might make it home before the storm hit, and with a little more luck I might have the dogs ran and fed too.
I groaned. We were out of dog food. The last thing I wanted to do was put on a civil face and go to the market. I wanted to go home, crawl into bed, curl up in a tight ball, cry my eyes out, and fall sleep.
The store parking lot was nearly empty. Surely that meant the check out lines would be short.
I grabbed my purse, jumped out, shut the door - and froze. The keys were still in the ignition. A sob threatened to drop me to the ground and escalate into serious crying, but tears would only complicate my situation, not solve it.
I considered my options. I had my purse and thus money and my cell phone. My parents had an extra key to the truck and were only fifteen minutes away. Fifteen minutes would give me plenty of time to make my purchase and be back out to the truck before they arrived. Since, the truck canopy was unlocked, I could put the dog food inside and sit on the dropped tailgate while I waited - if I needed to wait. And, it hadn't started to snow, yet...
In less than ten minutes the phone call had been made, the dog food purchased, and I was back outside, sitting on the tailgate. To entertain myself I watched the people entering and exiting the store, surprised so many others were out so late on a stormy night. Perhaps they had urgent purchases like I had.
One held my attention longer than the others. Male or female? I couldn't tell. The hair style, clothing and mannerisms could be either. The hair was a longish Pompadour. The shirt, slacks/trousers, and loafers were not definitive of either gender.
The person crossed the parking lot and then veered in my direction. I held my breath. Surely he/she did not intend on drawing me into conversation.
He/she continued his/her course right up to my tailgate. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I’ve locked my keys inside, but my folks are on their way with a spare.”
“It’s not very safe for you to sit here alone this time of night. I’d better stay with you.”
I thought, "God, no! Who will protect me from you?"
To my horror, the person jumped up and sat next to me on the tailgate. What followed was the oddest conversation I have ever been a part of.
“Do you remember an incident a few years back when a patient on the fourth floor of the hospital jumped out the window in a suicide attempt?”
The fourth floor was the psyche ward. I swallowed. “Vaguely.”
“Well I was that man.”
I struggled to keep my face non-responsive.
“Amazingly, I was not hurt in the fall, just bruised. It was then I realized God had a plan for my life or He would not have saved me in such a miraculous way. I needed to stick around and discover what that plan was. I continued with therapy and have since put my life back together. I have had steady employment for several years now, and I am a productive part of society again.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Surprisingly, I meant it.
“And don’t you worry,” He told me. “God will give you the strength you need to deal with your current crises. I don’t know the details, but I know you are overwhelmed with great difficulties. I will pray for you.”
I was touched. “Thank you.”
My folks pulled in next to me.
“Looks like the Calvary is here.”
He jumped down, grabbed his cart and turned to me one more time, “I really do wish you luck.”
And with a nod he walked away.
I learned several important lessons that night. First, God sends the least likely messengers when we least expect them, and second, I needed to rely on God’s strength, not mine. He would carry me through the difficult circumstances, the infernos, and dark places. And third, all I needed was faith.