The sun was shining and there was a cool breeze in the air. I rolled the window down on the way home and enjoyed the crisp, cool, yet warm and refreshing breeze that blew through the car. I cranked up the radio and enjoyed life a little. By the time I got home, I didn’t want to go inside, so I decided to waste time on Facebook. From there, I randomly decided to get a few items at the Dollar Tree. On my way, I randomly decided to stop and get a copy of the apartment key at Ace Hardware to give to the USPS (something that needed to be done for weeks now). Little did I know that these things were not so random, and little did I know that God was positioning me in a miraculous way!
At Ace Hardware, things began to get weird. I got the copy of the key without a problem, and I waited in line to pay. Of all things, Ace Hardware had to use old-fashioned carbon copy imprinting of the credit and debit cards because their lines were down. I waited patiently in line for my turn thinking that I surely would be able to use a check. Ace Hardware also does not accept checks, which I found out when I was trying to pay. Of course, I didn’t have cash, so the woman behind the counter said, “You can just leave since it is only a basic copy of a key. You can come back later or whatever. It’s fine. It beats waiting for ten minutes to run your card.” Hesitantly, I left thinking, “I’ll just get cash back at the Dollar Store.”
I got to the Dollar Store, did my shopping, and began to check out. I went to get my cash back, and they charge a small $1.00 fee to do so. That seemed incredibly ridiculous to me, so I decided to go to the bank in Albertsons on my way home and just withdraw $5.00 directly—no fees and no more than I needed. These may seem like random and pointless facts to you, but it turns out that it was all a way that God not-so-coincidentally positioned me to meet a special and wonderful woman who was waiting outside of Albertsons.
I walk out of the store with no consideration of my surroundings. A gentle Iranian-American woman with a walker on her side and her basket of groceries in front of her stopped me with the words, “Excuse me. I missed my ride. I live close and can help with gas. Could you give me a ride?”
Without skipping a beat, as if it was the most natural thing to do, I said, “Yeah! Sure, of course!” The woman walked slowly, so I met her with the car near Albertsons. As we settled in the car, I asked her what her name was. We will say Clara for sake of the story. Clara then began asking me if I was familiar with the area. I said, “Somewhat. I live just off of Centennial.”
With her Middle Eastern, gentle voice she continued, “I live on Holli Springs. I’m the third building on the left.”
“You’re kidding,” I shockingly replied. “I live two buildings down on the right side of Holli Springs.” We drive home making small talk and I pull up to her building. I point to mine as we are amazed that I would just happen to be a neighbor. I offer to bring in her groceries, and by now we have both mentioned God being up to something awesome, so I ask about her church attendance. “Where do you go to church?”
“I don’t actually attend a church. I am very new to being a Christian, and I don’t feel I am ready to be committed to a certain church just yet. I don’t even know the differences between them all. I do meet with some friends for Bible Study every week.”
“If you would like to go to a church, I would love to pick you up and take you to church with me!”
“Thank you very much for offering,” she says brokenly as she tries to walk without slipping on the ice. “My friends ask me to join them often too, but I am just not ready to commit to a place yet, but thank you very much for offering. What church do you attend?”
“It is a little Assemblies of God church not too far from here.”
“Oh, I don’t know much about the churches, but my friends are Jehovah Witnesses.”
Red flags began popping up with a prayer in my heart, “God, why have you orchestrated our meeting? What do you want me to share with this kind woman?”
In the moment of silence, the woman began apologizing for her slow pace and explained to me that she had a massive stroke four years ago. Doctors said that if she survived, she would be a vegetable, yet here she was, walking, despite the fact that her left side didn’t work anymore. We made it to the door of her apartment, and she invited me in for coffee or tea. I decided that I had plenty of time, and so I stayed for coffee.
Once the coffee was poured and she sat down, I began to ask her about how she came to know God. She explained to me how the stroke left her so dependent on people, how she got so depressed that she couldn’t do anything, and how she began asking Allah, “Why is this happening to me? I have been good. If you are just, why is this happening to me?” It was here that I learned her Iranian Islamic heritage, and I was in awe of what was unfolding.
In a moment of desperation, in a moment of being so depressed that she was on the verge of suicide, she called out to Jesus, “If you are real, speak to me in a way I will understand.”
“ It wasn’t long after that, maybe a few days later,” Clara continued. “I was lying in bed praying for people I never even gave a second thought to until I drifted to sleep. Then I woke up in the middle of the night, and in the middle of the darkness a voice spoke into my ear behind me. I kid you not, this is what happened, and it is as if I can hear as clearly today as I did then. The voice called me by name and said, “Clara, I am not finished with you. I have more for your life,” and I knew it was Jesus.”
As the conversation continued, I learned much more about her. I learned that she has accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. I learned that she does have bible study with Jehovah Witnesses. I learned that she has had council with Mormons. I learned that she is very much in a place where she needs God’s truth and love proclaimed over her, but she is also in a place where she is filled with so much unexplainable peace, joy, love, and expectancy of God’s divine healing.
I knew why God made our paths cross. He wants me to be the voice of truth and love in Clara’s life. He wants me to be the vessel that carries her closer to his freeing truth because the enemy is trying to cloud her with all kinds of false truths.
We chatted for an hour about God, and as I closed our meeting, I prayed with her. We exchanged numbers, and we will keep in touch. I left her home, and wept in awe of God and the way he was working in both of our lives, especially hers. Knowing I had a bit of time, I decided to go pay for the key at Ace Hardware. And here is where I say the whole encounter was beyond miraculous.
I walk into Ace, and wait in line with my key. The customer in front of me pays with a credit or debit card of some kind. I then ask about when the lines came back on. The employee thinks and says, “It wasn’t too long after you left, maybe about an hour or so.”
As the pieces come together, I press further, “So about an hour ago or so?”
“Yeah, about that.”
And it clicks. The lines came on at Ace Hardware about the same time, give or take 15 minutes that I pulled into Albertsons and met Clara. Furthermore, they wouldn’t let me pay for the key. God literally has given me a key into Clara’s life, and, therefore, the authority and right to speak truth and life into her young Christian heart.
As I sat in wonder (and this is what I hope will encourage you the most), I was amazed at how my God will stop at nothing to let His truth and love penetrate our lives. He would even intervene on a casual, whimsical decision to stop at a store, and order my steps in such a way that I would be forced to go to the exact place where Clara was waiting at the exact moment she needed some Christian love. It is the same for me, for you, for Clara, and for every person in the world. He loves us all, and he is in pursuit of all of our hearts. He will stop at nothing to make it known. I am in awe of my God!