This past week I had one of the most amazing moments of my week happen. I didn’t say life because if I’m honest, I have had and I’m certain, through the grace of God, will continue to have many more of these amazing moments to occur.
I was running late for an appointment and as I pulled into the parking lot, I pushed the power locks on my car, closed the door and rushed inside. Thinking back, I was slightly aware of my surroundings, but so hurried that I didn’t really take them all in as I now recall the car next to me having it’s hood up and a woman pacing nearby. Moments later, after getting checked in, I went back outside to retrieve something from my vehicle, only to find that in my scurry I had left my keys on the console inside and was now locked out of my car. Quite confused, I tugged and tested every door including the trunk hatch to see if either would open. Though the keys were left inside, my doors should not have been able to lock due to a built-in safety mechanism that normally triggers a signal. It’s worked flawlessly in the past and I couldn’t understand why I was now locked out, staring helplessly at my keys locked inside.
Pulling out my cell phone to call a friend, I walked towards the front of my car and sat down on the curb to wait for help. In that moment, a little more aware of my surroundings, I again noticed the hood up on the car next to mine and the woman still in the distance. She was still pacing and looked a bit distraught. Something I had not noticed in my initial rush to get into the appointment. Now, more aware and concerned at her present state, I commented on the fact that her hood was up. “So, your car won’t crank and I’m locked out of mine” I said to her. Stopping her pacing, she looked over at me and with clear distress in her voice she asked me, “did you say would I like you to pray for me?” Shocked at her question and how she had misinterpreted my comment, I replied with “ok, yes.. I can pray for you.” I motioned for her to come sit next to me on the curb and to take my hand. Almost childlike, she came and nearly cuddled next to me, leaning her body beside mine and clutching my hand as we began to pray. I was clueless as to what she needed or what she was enduring but as she began, first silently weeping, her cries turned to sobs as I prayed for God to give her comfort and peace about the things that were bothering her. Listening intently to Him guide me on what to pray and say to her, He wanted her to know that He loved her and that He had not left her. That He wouldn’t ever leave her and that her prayers were not going unheard and that He was taking care of things in her life and at home. As her angst began to subside, she slowly and quietly began to whisper “thank you, Jesus” and her tears lightened. We finished praying and she reached over to hug me. It was in this moment, at that time of being embraced and embracing a complete stranger that I understood that my being locked out was not by accident but it was necessary to get me to pay attention. I was so busy, rushed to take care of my own needs that I had overlooked the clear distress of someone in need. Someone that God needed to use me to get to. I had passed this woman twice, rushing in and rushing out, before being “made” to pay attention to her only after my own needs had to be set aside and I was literally made to ‘be still” and observe my surroundings.
How often do we feel justified in putting ourselves and personal needs first but we miss every opportunity to be of assistance to someone else who is in greater need? What does it take for us, in a time and world that is so busy, to just slow down? What is the cost we are willing to pay to see to it that if we could just be used to touch one life, be it a hug, a smile or a caring, kind word to give them the push they need to back away from the edge or turn around and completely walk away? This woman wasn’t my friend, she wasn’t a colleague, I’ve never met her a day in my life. She, Caucasian, myself, African American. Me, at an appointment for one thing, her, at an appointment for another…and the list of differences, barriers and details I’m sure go on. But one thing that stands prevalent above all is the sincere fact that she needed encouragement and I was willing to give it. None of those things mattered other than the fact that this woman was hurting and needed to be healed of her dilemma. To at least know that someone would stop and take the time out their “busy-ness” to care.
Jesus said “this is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” – John 15:12