Recently, I found myself exhausted as I traveled to up north to prepare for a retreat I was leading that weekend. The night prior had been a rough one; filled with way to many sleep interruptions by one dog needing to go outside a couple of times and another falling off the bed, and still another whimpering as she turned from arthritis. Each of these situations woke me up to a degree where I found it difficult to return to the slumber of deep and restful sleep.
I was driving through the last town before my destination and had planned to stop for a bathroom break and to pick up the items needed for dinner. The plan was that I was going to arrive at our cabin early, get the participants journal books individually prepared, pray over our weekend and facility as well as have dinner prepared because the participants were all traveling together and would arrive about 6:30pm. I was in for a late night and was hoping I would get there early enough for a nap after my sleep deprived night.
I went into the store and decided to grab the items I needed and then head to the restroom on the way out. I was so tired and had to go to the bathroom pretty badly, so I rushed through the store collecting the items on my list. I went and found the shortest line of the checkouts and proceeded to wait my turn. As I was waiting I overheard the young woman at the check-out telling some people in front of me about something she was dealing with. I couldn’t quite hear what it was, but it sounded like her dog had died the night before.
About that time I realized I had forgotten to put a few needed items on my list for dinner...shoot, I was going to have to go back into the store and get them. There was no way around it.
I paid for the items I already had on the conveyor belt and told her I had to go back for a few items I forgot. I paid for the items I had and proceeded back to the aisles for my missing ones. A couple more times around the store and I headed back to the checkout lines. I searched once again for the shortest line and found that I was back with the same young woman. As I started placing my new items on the counter, I remembered her feeling so sad. I immediately felt a nudge to pray for her and just as quickly said to myself, “Lord, I am way too tired to pray for this girl. I have to go to the bathroom so bad and I have to hurry so I can rest. I am not praying for her; don’t make me!”
Well, as it became my turn, she took my items, added them up on the register and collected my money. All the while, I continued to let God know, I was too tired, too much in a hurry to go to the bathroom and too busy to pray for her. After making my payment, I grabbed my purse and reached for my receipt from her hands, looking up to tell her to have a great day when I looked into her eyes.
Oh. My. Gosh. She looked as if she were going to cry right then, right there.
I was screaming in my head...”Lord I am exhausted!”
I looked behind me in line. There was no one there. I turned and saw her puffy bottom lip jutting up and out from the upper one.
“Lord, I need to pee!”
I looked behind me again...still no one in line. I heard myself asking God, “Are you kidding me?”
I looked at her face again and she looked as if she were about to begin crying at any moment.
I asked her if she were okay.
She leaned over and whispered, “My car got repossessed last night and I have no idea what I am going to do.”
My heart sank. It wasn’t her dog. Although that would have been horrible too, but this was about life. I remembered when I was a single mom with a ‘going-no-where’ job and lost so much while many times I had no idea of what I was going to do next.
I turned again to see how many people were behind me, waiting for me to move on so they could check out.
NO ONE was there. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I turned back to her and leaned in closer to her and said, “Can I pray for you?”
Her response was one of total amazement. “Oh my gosh, would you???”
At this point I was finally able to start laughing inside. I was laughing at me and it was probably in response to God laughing at me. That is what it felt like. I grabbed her hands and leaned toward her as I prayed for this precious soul. When we were done, I looked to see how many people were waiting for me to leave. NONE. God provided us all the time we needed! I did see the other workers and a lady that looked like a supervisor watching us as I walked to the restroom.
Okay Lord, I don’t want to lose any in the harvest. Especially this precious young and very hungry soul.
Then this morning I read John 12:20-26NLT
“Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.”“Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”
And as I read verse 25, for the first time ever, I heard that it was referring to the previous verse about the plentiful harvest of new lives. I immediately was taken back to my Friday morning escapade of trying to tell God I wasn’t going to pray for someone because I was tired, had to go to the bathroom, and in a hurry.
“Those who love their life, will lose it...they will lose the harvest. If I had just done what I wanted, I would have lost the opportunity to minister and to show the love of Jesus to that precious girl. Only God knows just what that meant to her.
This morning I am experiencing what it meant to God and what it meant to me.
Thank you Jesus, for creating the space and time and allowing me to pray for her. Thank you for not allowing me to be so selfish that I would walk away from someone who was so obviously hurting. Thank you for loving me so much that you keep after me, keep forgiving me, and keep loving me. I lift her up to you again and ask you to provide for her needs and bring more workers to her who will lovingly lift her up to you and show her how much you love her!