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Eyes open, feet on the ground, coffee, I told myself, and the mental fog will clear. I was emotionally and physically drained. Even good things like vacations take energy, and on this particular morning I was running low.
A walk will help, slowly, one foot in front of the other, the self talk continued. Now pray.
Lord, thank You for this amazing vacation. Thank You for time to see family and friends. Thank You for Your creation.
I rounded the corner in my brother-in-law’s California neighborhood. A young woman was sitting on the sidewalk, hunched over with her head down, her long blonde hair hiding her face.
“Good morning,” I called out, more cheerful than I felt. She lifted her head, her hair falling back so I could see her face.
“Good morning,” she replied, more responsively than I had expected.
Something about the young woman touched my heart. I saw myself in her. A lifetime ago that was me, alone and burdened by life.
I continued my walk and my prayer: Lord, I don’t feel like talking to anyone, but if she’s still there the next time I circle the block, I will know that You want me to talk with her. I am not even sure she has a problem or needs to talk, but I am willing to act on faith.
I rounded the corner again. She was gone. Part of me was relieved, but another part longed to reach out to her, to encourage her. I suppose that is why I looked more carefully in the yard. She wasn’t gone; she had simply moved into the shade.
I walked a bit nervously across the rocky landscape. We exchanged names, and I knelt beside her.
The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom,
so that I know how to
comfort the weary.
Morning by morning
he wakens me and opens
to his will.—Isaiah 50:4 (NLT)
“This is very strange, but I sense that I am supposed to pray for you,” I said, “and give you a message of hope. I remember what it is like to be young. It is not easy. Is there some specific way that I could pray for you?”
Danielle poured out her concern. Her boyfriend, Jesse, had gone into a three-month treatment program. She didn’t know what she was going to do without him. They had been together every day for four years.
I asked her, “Do you have any spiritual beliefs?” and she responded, “I believe that people have good energy or bad energy. I try to connect with the good energy in others. That is about it. Years ago in high school I would have called myself an atheist, but I don’t say that anymore.”
“I am not here to prove God to you. God will prove Himself,” I said as she listened intently. “I am here to encourage you and give you hope.” The words did not seem like my own. They felt as if they were coming from the heart of God.
I placed my hand on Danielle’s shoulder and began to pray, “Thank You, Lord, for Danielle. Thank You that she is Your precious child and that You are with her. Please let her know how much You love her. Wrap Your arms around her and comfort her. Be with Jessie as well. Guide them and show them the plan you have for their lives. In Jesus name, Amen.”
My nerves got the best of me, and I jumped up fairly quickly and made an exit across the yard. I was at the end of the driveway before I turned around to wave good-bye. I realized that when I stood up, Danielle did too. Maybe she would have talked more if I had not been so anxious. Perhaps, I wondered, I didn’t say enough.
Lord, I am not always going to know what to do or how much to say, I prayed as I walked away. But I entrust Danielle into Your capable hands. I promise to keep praying for her. I know You have a plan for her and Jesse during this time apart. Please bring both of them to You. Thank You that you wanted me to be a small part of that miracle this morning. Amen.
Marie Allison, who leads the Alpha course and directs the Connect Ministry at Wheaton Bible Church says she “enjoys participating in God’s creation” by running, walking, and gardening. She and her husband, Lon, have been part of our church since 2004.