It’s me, the storyteller, in on a Friday night. Unusual for me, yes, but so was the tale that unfolded. We’d planned it weeks ago. Nailed the date, wrote it down. We were going out with friends. But life happened, plans changed, and it didn’t work out. Then, an unexpected need in a different part of town, and that’s how we ended up there…
We’re out, Mr. Schrock and I, runnin’ some errands. Something specific’s pulled us out of our normal route. But first, dinner. At Taco Bell.
Standin’ in line at the counter, and there she is. A trim, attractive blonde. Twitching, fidgeting, never standing still. Her movements are frenetic, unnerving. I can’t help but look at her. Something, it seems, is wrong.
Orders finished, we take a seat at a table, waiting, waiting. The blonde fidget has disappeared. Her drunken companion, speech slurring and slow, is waitin’, too. And here she comes.
From my spot by the window, I cannot stop lookin’. There’s somethin’…somethin’…
“Papa,” I pray. “Give me a word.” And I get up.
I walk over to where she’s standin’ in her cute, cropped blue jeans. And when I catch her eye, I say, “I’ve been watchin’ you. And I want you to know that God’s heart for you is so big and warm and open.”
Shock. She’s nearly speechless. “I can’t believe it,” she says. “I never talk to God.”
I say words that I’ve said in the past to lost sheep: “How can I pray for you?”
I can nearly feel the groaning in her spirit. “I don’t know,” she says. “I don’t know.”
She’s vibrating; she can’t stop. Her hands flit hither and yon. And all at once, she leans forward, and she takes me up in a hug. “Thank you.” Pain’s leakin’ from her eyes, hands swipin’ liquid hurt.
“I don’t know your name,” I say. Stress and agitation are rolling from her in waves. Taking her face in both of my hands, I look right into her eyes. “But God knows your name.”
I walk back to our table where Mr. Schrock, he’s been watchin’. His eyes are all misty. There’s a lump in my throat, and my own eyes are wet.
She slips back to me one more time before she follows the drunken man who, it turns out, is her stepdaddy. “Thank you again,” she says. She tells us, then, parts of her story, a patchwork of suff’ring and loss. “I think God’s mad at me. I read the Bible, but I can’t understand what it’s sayin’.”
“The only verse you really need to know right now is this one.” And I speak to her John 3:16. “God’s not mad. He sent His Son to die. For you! No, God isn’t mad.”
I watch her walk away, this fallin’-apart girl that He loves; heart’s desire. A lost sheep to seek and to save.
God knew her name first, but I know it now, too. It’s Angelica.
In an unlikely place at an unplanned-for time, the meticulous providence of God’s intervened. For one of the last, lost, and least.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.”
These kinds of encounters are normal for me. I do not tell you every time this happens, only when He tells me to. There is one reason I share these stories. I want God’s people to learn to hear His voice, to see with His eyes, to be bold and courageous and wise in reaching out to other folks in their need. We are, as He showed me today, His main “introducers,” His hands, feet, and heart. There’s a whole world that’s dyin’ for love…