Today my son & I were finishing lunch in the parking lot before going into the store to grocery shop. We had a huge thanksgiving list to tackle & so I figured we needed something warm & breaded in our stomachs before we went in to face the pies & the cray cray crowd. I deliberately parked away from everyone on the far end of the parking lot so no one would watch me stuff my face with a chicken sandwich. Don’t judge me-have you been to the grocery store the Tuesday before thanksgiving ?
As we ate, I couldn’t help but notice the car that pulled up next to us. A young lady pulled up in her red smart car and not too much later another car pulled up on her other side. A guy got out of his car, got into her car, and they talked in her car while I made our grocery list. He got out after 5 minutes or so & drove off. I thought it was kind of a weird exchange so was going to wait until she pulled away before I opened my car door right next to hers. But the young girl stayed in her car & as I looked over her way our eyes met. And I noticed she was balling her eyes out.
Oh no. What do I do? Awkward. She’s crying. I’m watching. Do I wave? Do I smile? Do I look away? “Oh sister. I’ve been there,” I thought. Was it a break up? Was she pregnant? What news did she just get? She’s hurting. Gosh I wish I could help but how? And I’ve got this list. I’ve got a turkey to buy & kids to tend to. Plus isnt it weird to talk to a stranger in a parking lot. What do I do?
“You can pray for her.” -Holy Spirit
“Yes in my mind, I’ll do that. As I walk by I shall bless her & carry on. ” – Me
“I don’t think so. Pray with her In her car. “-Holy Spirit
“No! That’s crazy. She’ll think I’m a stalker or ‘cereal killer’ disguised as a lady in mom jeans!” -Me
But again, I heard in my spirit that I needed to pray for her. So I jumped out of my car almost involuntarily like the Holy Spirit kicked me out. And I knocked on her tiny smart window & a conversation followed something like this…
“I couldn’t help but notice you’re crying. I know I’m just some crazy lady parked next to you but I can’t grocery shop unless I know you’re ok. Are you ok? Can I pray for you?”
She motioned me to sit & she nodded yes. I sat in her tiny smart seat as she was sobbing to the point she couldnt get a word out. And so I rambled a bit before I asked her if she was a believer. She nodded. I told her how much Jesus loved her. She nodded. Paused. Nodded. I told her not to doubt his love, that nothing she’s done, or will do, could ever separate her from his love. Then there was … Weeping!
Oh I. What am I doing, eeek Lord? Speak to her.
She looks at me like “I’m listening”.
Ok yes… I’ll keep going. I tell her how his ways are higher than our ways. I told her he has a plan for her life. How she’s created to do great things. How she needs to lean on him. And then I prayed for her. I patted her arm. I looked her in the eyes & told her she’s beautiful. I told her to find people who will surround her with love & encourage her to live for God.
I told her everything I needed to hear. And then we said goodbye.
I got my grocery list with 23gazillion items & got my son & we walked into the store. When he pulled the shopping cart out he paused & looked at me to say, “Mom, I love how God always puts people near you that need you.”
I’m reflecting on that thought tonight. How true is it that the Lord puts people near us that need us? But how often do we pass them by to complete a task, do life, work, & never notice those near us in need. Do they have to cry their eyes out before we will take notice?
I dont say all this to toot my own horn. This was such a lesson for me. I say this because everyday I walk by people I know are hurting… the disgruntled guy in line behind me, the lady on the corner, the kid down the street. I hesitate or delegate it to the next guy because I sometimes doubt that the Lord can use me, or I struggle with initimidation, or I am just too selfish to leave my comfort zone.
After our cart was loaded down with our list & 12 impulse buys we headed home. But before I turned out of the parking lot I saw a note under the windshield wiper.
Today I was blessed to be a blessing simply because I saw a need & I wasn’t afraid to be bold, awkward, late or rambly for Jesus. I just did it. And God used me. All she needed was someone. Someone to not pass by. Someone to look her in the eyes. Someone to say the name of Jesus. Someone to pray.
God can use you too-because, truth be told, someone needs you to stop & pray. We have been deliberately placed in close proximity to people that need us. They need us only because we are the vessel the Lord plans to use to bring restoration, forgiveness, hope, healing, peace, salvation & joy into their lives . Our responsibility is to simply have a conversation.
My prayer is that we all open our eyes to the needs of others near us, that we will be more willing and ready to tell our story, and eager to share our faith. My prayer is James 5:13-18 (paraphrased from message version)…. “Are you & people near you hurting? Pray. Do you & people near you feel great? Sing. Are you & people near you sick? Pray. … Believing-prayer will heal you & people near you, and Jesus will put you & people near you on your feet. And if you & people near you have sinned, you & people near you will be forgiven—healed inside and out. Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.” James 5:13-18 MSG http://bible.com/97/jas.5.13-18.msg
It’s raining. Let’s help others grow again.
Who is near you – that needs you? Pray.
See: Eph 4:11-12, Matt 28:19, Ps 145:4, John 15:7, James 5:13-18