Remembering The Unexpected Messenger

John 14:18: "I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you."

The scripture reminded of a bizarre incident that happened years ago when 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. I prayed I'd make it home before the storm hit, maybe even have the dogs ran and fed too.

Dog food. I groaned. We were out. 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, and sleep.

The store parking lot was nearly empty. Surely that meant the check out lines would be short.

I grabbed my purse, jumped out of the truck, 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. I entertained myself watching other desperate souls entering and exiting the store.

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, 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 cavalry 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. Second, He will never leave me orphaned, alone, and terrified of the future. I need only to rely on His strength, not mine, an He would carry me through the difficult circumstances, the infernos, and dark places as long as I held onto Him, my faith.

Of course, the rest of my life turned out far better than I imagined. God hand picked my fourth husband and promised we'd grow old together in health. He still sends unexpected messengers to comfort me when facing challenges, but none have been quite as strange as the one I encountered in that dark parking lot on the tailgate of my truck.


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