I was right on schedule. Enough time to stop by one more office before my noon lunch. I was downtown Birmingham and had already circled the block once trying to find a close parking spot. That’s when I saw it. The one place, right out front of the building and though it would require my parallel parking skills, I was taking it! As I put the car in reverse, I noticed a lady in a cute toboggan with a pom pom, bundled up …and standing right in front of the parking meter. Hmmm. I continued backwards, rolling my window down to politely ask “are you holding this spot?” Please no, I thought. “No, I am waiting on the bus” she says. Her arms were full of grocery bags. I place the car in park and then what took place felt like watching a slow motion movie.
I see a bus, a very fast campus bus pull in a place right down the road, in front of the “bus stop” sign. I watch this lady begin to gather her bags quickly and try and walk quickly. I look back at the bus. A young guy jumps off and is trailing toward us. And just like that. The bus pulls off. Oh no. I see this poor lady standing there, shoulders drop and I could see the tears streaming down her face. All while I am still in my car. I jump out “Can I help you?” She is trying to ask the young guy, through her tears if there’s another bus coming? He just shrugs his shoulders and goes on his way.
I start to pray. Ok, Lord, help me here. She just turns to me and says “I thought I was in the right place. I am trying to get to my car that is parked at the Student Library.” I was still kinda trying to figure out if I was supposed to give her a ride or what? And then I looked her in the eye and said “Come on, I will take you to your car.” I picked up two of the bags full of groceries. When I opened my car door, my bible was on the seat, I showed her “Now I love the Lord and I am safe, you are safe right?” She is still so shaken up, and says” Yes honey, it’s just been a day!!!”
We load up in the car and head out on our one to two mile trek and I say “well, I am Suzanne….are you downtown for a doctor’s appointment today? “No, I am a student and I am graduating this Saturday with a degree in Social Work. I retired from the phone company and through some unfortunate events I lost my retirement so I just went back to school to start a new career at 60 years old.” Wow. “Oh my, congratulations!!” I am now so interested and inspired in my new friend.
We find out she lives in the same community I do and we talk about how God provides exactly what we need at just the right time. Then she directs me right to the student parking deck where her car is parked, I jump out, help her load her car and once again say “congratulations!” “Suzanne, thank you, this has been a gift, like a Christmas angel. God just put you right there.” My new friend, a stranger just fifteen minutes ago, gives me a hug and I say as I am rushing off “You were a gift to me today. Merry Christmas.”
And she was. I was so inspired by her story of perserverance and courage. Here she was at the finish line and our paths crossed.Thank you Jesus, that you are always on time. That I can make my plans but you determine my steps. Thank you for putting me in that parking spot, at that time. Thank you for this assignment. Amen.
I looked at the clock and it was 11:58. I drove straight to my lunch appointment with a fresh perspective! And I was still thinking about the impact of my brief encounter with a stranger.
Our verse for today is…
#2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
Pay attention. Be ready at any time to change direction. The greatest blessings are those that are given. Time is precious. It is fleeting. Spend it wisely. Leave room for unexpected assignments. Serve one another… old and new, family and friends. We may think we are in the right spot but time will come and go before you know it. Don’t miss the bus!