Her name is Sarah.
She was standing outside our local Wal-Mart holding up a sign that read, “Just passing through, anything helps.”
We had been inside the store for over an hour and half, shopping for a father’s day gift. I was tired, cranky, and ever so hungry. I wanted to get home, eat, and enjoy father’s day with my husband.
As I pull up beside her, I glanced and then look away.
My mind fills.
Not with her, and her needs, but my own.
My eyes totally blinded by the opportunity to be Jesus to this young woman.
My heart totally blinded to her need.
My children sit all around me, and I begin to tune out their chatter.
Then I hear that still small voice, “Whatever you do for the least of these you have done for me.”
My heart races.
I begin an argument with the Holy Spirit that takes me through the stop light, and around the corner to another one.
“Go back and talk with her.”
“I don’t have time, Richard doesn’t know we are at and my phone is at home. He’ll be worrying. Plus, I am exhausted.”
“Invite her over for dinner.”
“It’s going on two o’clock, I’m sure she has already had lunch. Besides, my house is a total wreck. My bathroom needs to be cleaned. It’s going to take me forever to cook what I have planned for lunch. Plus, I really shouldn’t be inviting a stranger over with out Richard knowing and approving. Not to mention it’s father’s day.”
All it once it hits me.
It’s father’s day.
Where is her father?
Where is the father who is meant to protect her and provide for her?
Why is she alone today?
Where is she going?
What is she running away from?
Does she know Jesus?
All at once my heart is aching for this young woman. All alone, begging on a street corner, in the blistering south Texas heat. I start to think about all the dangers she faces traveling alone. I think about how I would feel if it were Grace or Marissa standing there.
Alone and venerable.
I think about what she may have already endured.
“Go back and talk with her.”
Reluctantly, I pull out of my lane, and into the turn around. Only because at this point obedience is not optional, the spirit is unrelenting. I drive back to Wal-Mart, park, and begin to walk over to speak with her.
She sees me coming and smiles.
I introduce myself.
She laughs and says, “Melissa is my sisters name.”
I wonder where is her sister, and if she knows what is happening in Sarah’s life.
I ask her where she is headed, and why.
She tells me her story.
I ask her to come over for lunch, and eat with my family.
She tells me she can’t. A friend from San Marcos is coming to pick her up, and take her Austin.
The next step on her journey.
I ask her if I could pray for her.
She replies with an enthusiastic yes.
I pray for her protection and deliverance from what she is running from. I pray for her to know the height and depths of Jesus love for her. I pray for christian men and women to met her on every step of her journey, and that they minister grace to her.
We chat a bit more.
I am thinking to myself, that I have no money to give her. I never have cash on me, and my boys just spent all theirs in Wal-Mart on their daddy. I make a mental note to tuck a twenty in my purse for times such as this.
I embrace her and leave.
I drive away.
As I get closer to home, I begin to think…
Why didn’t I offer to take her to San Marcos, to her friend, after we ate?
To Austin even.
Really what would those two hours have really meant to me?
What would they have meant to her?
I have a debit card.
Why didn’t I offer to go get her something to eat?
Why didn’t I go into Wal-Mart and get her something?
Why didn’t I go to the ATM and pull out a bit of cash for her?
I could have.
It didn’t even cross my mind, while I was with her.
I learn, yet again, that loving like Jesus is work.
It takes the constant renewal of my mind.
It takes death to self.
It takes picking up my cross and following Him.
It takes the mind of Christ.
I can do one of two things at this point.
I can pat myself on the back, because I did what I felt prompted to do. I can feel real good about the fact that I did more than most. After all, I stopped and spoke with her. I gave her my time. I prayed with her. On some small level, I treated her with the worth and value ascribed to all humans, made in the image of God.
I can recognize my insufficiency. I could have done more. I should have.
“Lord, give me the grace to be your hands and feet. Make me to be sensitive to your leading. Open my eyes to see the need, and show me how to meet it. Be near to Sarah Lord. She needs you, and so do I.”