I was pressed for time, more than two hours away from my destination, and could not find my car keys. As I stood there searching my pockets I heard a small voice say to me, “Ma’am.” I turned my head and coming towards me was an older woman in her late 60’s. Her hair was silver; her eyes were baby blue, matching the color of her jogging suit. Again, the small voice said to me, “Ma’am, could I bother you for a favor.” My thoughts were not on favors at this time. I needed to get into my car and go. But, as I turned to tell her I did not have time, I saw the plastic broom she used as a cane. Its bristles were bent and some were missing, the handle was worn from her grip. She came closer to me, dragging her right foot behind her. I saw her crippled right hand and leg, and my heart stopped.
“Ma’am, could I bother you for a favor?” she said again. I looked at my car then back at her. “Yes, Ma’am, what can I do for you?” I replied, hoping she would only need a few dimes or maybe just some breakfast. She stopped at the rear of my car and said, “Can I bother you for a ride across the street? I need to get to the post office, and I can’t walk that far, I just need to get a little closer.” As she talked I could hear the slow southern drawl coming up, and saw hopelessness in her eyes. I wondered how many people she had asked before me, and how long she had been waiting for someone to be kind.
I really am pressed for time, I thought in my heart, looking back at my car. But, something in me urged me, made me reply, “Sure, where you need to go?” She pointed across the street, across the busy highway and said, “It is really hard for me to get across and I just need to get a little closer to the post office.” She lifted up a Dollar Tree bag with a few small items in it. I nodded my head, gave her a smile and said, “Sure, hop in.” She slowly came around the side of the car, as I crawled in and unlocked it. I wondered again, how long she had been standing in the cold North Carolina morning waiting for some kind stranger to give her a ride. As she sat down in my car, I could see the flush of her cheeks. She had been standing outside for some time; the smell of crisp, cold air surrounded my car as she reached around and buckled her seat belt.
“Where is the Post office?” I asked her. “I am not from around here, so you may have to tell me how to get there.” She smiled and said, “I can do that.” As I pulled out of the parking lot, she started talking about her life. She said that she had a stroke a few years back. She had always taken good care of herself. Her and her husband of 30 some years had a nice farm not too far from where we were. She said the doctors told her that her stroke happened because of the stress of losing her husband in the fire. She looked at me with tears brimming and said, “He died in the fire that destroyed our farm.” My heart broke for this woman, and my heart cried out to God to bless her in some great way.
We arrived at the post office and her smile was so big. As I pulled into a parking space close to the door, she opened up her Dollar Tree bag and said, “I am hoping I can mail this to my niece in time for Christmas.” She showed me a puzzle of a country church, and a book that she thinks her little niece might like. She thanked me for the ride and said, “I hope I can find someone to take me a little closer to home when I am done here at the Post Office.” I replied, “I will pray the Lord Jesus to send you someone to help you.” Her smile grew wider as it came across her face. She looked at me and said, “Thank you, and God bless you.” I replied the same.
As I drove away I prayed for the Lord Jesus to send an angel her way. I prayed that someone would be kind, and help her get home. I prayed that He would bless her, and give her what she needs. Because I know that no matter what, Jesus is all she needs. As I turned my car onto the interstate, a scripture came to mind. “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:2) Then I realized, she never told me her name, she just told me about her life, and her pain. Whether she was an angel or not, I do not know, only God knows. But one thing I do know is this. What she and I did that day was church. I reached out to her, and she reached out to me. And because of this encounter, I will never be the same. As my destination drew near, my thoughts went back to this sweet lady, and I wondered if I could have done more for her. I could have done a lot more, but I believe I did what Jesus asked me to do, and in the end, that is all that matters.
We do not know the needs of others until we come to know them. I never met this woman before, and I probably will never see her again. But she had a need and since Jesus calls me to be the church, I am to meet those needs. Some would probably think me crazy for helping a complete stranger in a town far from home. But isn’t that what Jesus did, and isn’t that what He tells us to do as well?
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:34-40
Let us be the church, and not just go to church. Because sometimes, some of us have entertained angels unawares, and some of us have given Jesus a drink and food when no one else would. Be the church, my brethren, be the church. In Jesus name, Amen and Amen.