Saturday, March 27, 2010

When God Puts Us Where We Need to Be

Once again, I see how God puts me where he wants me to be. My constant prayer is to be less self/family-centered and reach out more to others, and he is answering that prayer.

As I was heading for home yesterday, I suddenly had the idea of stopping by Macy’s to buy some Clinique and get their bonus gift. I argued with myself (I thought—maybe it was God I was arguing with) that I really didn’t need it, but I exited and drove into the parking lot next to downtown Macy’s.

While I was congratulating myself on the excellent skill I showed by backing into the parking space, a young woman, beautiful but teary, approached me. She said, “I am so sorry to bother you, but you remind me of my aunt and I’m in a terrible fix. I’ve lost my wallet and need $4 to get out of the parking garage. Believe me, I wouldn’t humiliate myself for $4, but I really need to get my car.”

I said, “Let me see what I have. I know I have a fifty, but I can’t give you that.” I pulled out a dollar bill and gave it to her. “But I’m going into Macy’s to get one thing. If you want to go with me, I’ll get change and give you the other three.”

She reiterated her anxiety and embarrassment and said she was a student at Xavier but readily agreed and we started toward the store. As we crossed the street, I said, “So what was in your wallet? Driver’s license? Credit cards?”

She laughed. “Only one credit card. I’m a student—remember? My driver’s license and some money, but just about $35.” We talked about her last hour of retracing her steps.

At the door to Macy’s, she stopped and said she would wait outside. I said, “Well, if you’re gone when I come back, I’ll know you got the money from someone else.” It occurred to me that if this was a scam, she might not be allowed in Macy’s.

The clerk was accommodating but slow. Even though I wanted to stop to look at some sale items, I hurried back outside. When I didn’t see her, I assumed she’d gotten her money elsewhere. But then there she was, talking on her cell phone. As I approached her eyes lit up and she said, “Oh, you came back!” Then into the phone, “She did come back. She looks just like Aunt Bo. I’ll talk to you later.”

I pressed four more dollars into her hand, hugged her, and went home. I don’t know if her story was true or not; I only know that I went out of my way to give five dollars to Jesus yesterday, and I’m glad I did.

And this morning I cut my walk short (29 degrees is nippy) and felt like a wimp, but there was a reason. Two blocks from our street, I saw Cindy who lives across the street from us. She was picking up her son after an overnight, and we chatted for a moment. Then, casually, she said, “Did you know I have cancer? They found it about six months ago.”

I was shocked. We never see each other much in the winter, but surely I should have known about this. I pray for her nearly every day since she’s a single mom of four. But here was my neighbor and friend, and I’d unknowingly neglected her for months. We talked about her chemo, and she kept cutting her eyes over to the 8-year-old with her so I understood that she was cleaning up the experience considerably.
So again God put me where I needed to be. Now how will I respond? Responding to a need for four dollars was easier, but this is more important. I will pray for her healing, but I want to do more. With God’s help, I will.

When has God put you where you needed to be? And how did you respond?

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