Monday morning is usually my off day, a time to run errands and to deal with my personal life. While driving to find an affordable place to get my brakes done, I became overwhelmed when thinking of all the challenges and disappointments that have taken me by surprise. The tears poured because I knew there wasn’t an earthly vessel that could change the situation. Only God could intervene.
Being a preacher did not make me immune to being on the hot seat and in a rut.
Unlike the old adage that I was against the wall, I felt pushed into the wall. My attempts to pray were unsuccessful. I could not compare my situation to those of certain biblical figures. Unlike Job, I had not lost any children. And, unlike Jesus, I certainly wasn’t going to die for anyone. This wasn’t my moment in the Garden of Gethsemane. I did, however, feel like I was in a pit, dealt an unfair hand that I had to deal with.
With this feeling of despair overtaking my soul I grasped the steering tighter and tighter. Crying inconsolably, I decided to pull over. I threw my ringing cell phone, knowing that the caller could not help me. Instead, I peered through my sun roof, stared at the sky, and frantically yelled, “Jesus, are YOU praying for me? Do you see me? Are you going to continue to let your servant stay in this pit? You said in your word that when the righteous cry out you will hear them and deliver them….I’m waiting! You said if I call on you, you will answer me and show me great and mighty things……I’m looking!”
I sat still in the car, determined to wait for an answer. In complete silence, I listened for that “still small voice”. After about 5 minutes, I drove away. All that I could hear was oncoming traffic. “I just want an answer,” I thought.
I was silently thinking, “You are praying right?” I spotted a sign to my right that read: Brakes for $99. I pulled in quickly; all others had quoted four to five times that amount. I learned from the manager that the advertised price only applied to compact cars, but eagerly agreed to pay $159 for my SUV.
Somewhat relieved, I headed across the street to eat breakfast. I met a gentleman, a bible scholar, who had not been to church in eleven years. The preacher in me never sleeps; I am always swapping stories and testimonies about God’s goodness, no matter how bad things are. So naturally I asked him if had ever read: “forsake not the assembly of the saints.” I emphasized that he could not afford to be out of church any longer. He verbally committed to returning to the body. Whether he does is uncertain, but I am sure that I planted a seed. He had not touched his food when I stood to leave, yet asked to pay for my meal. I obliged with smile thinking, “God, this is cute: the affordable brake job and the free breakfast. Really? Though I am smiling, I know that is not what I asked you for. Before he exited, I asked for his name, so that I could pray for him. His utterance was unclear, so I asked him to spell his name. By the time he said the last letter, the tears were welling up in my eyes. He said, “Emmanuel.” I was stunned. His name means, “God is with us.” Further baffling me was not only the fact that he does not ordinarily eat at that restaurant, he told me that he was not hungry when I asked why he did not eat his food. It was clear that I had fed his soul and that he had given me a word.
The next day, while my client Lois sat in my chair, the third sign presented itself. Usually quiet, she exclaimed, staring at a tile on the floor,” Vikki, do you see what I see?” I looked down, in disbelief that I had overlooked this sign for the three years that I have been at this location. There it was: it stood out ─ an undeniable image of praying hands. Though part of a piece of tile, its copper color contrasted its slate-colored background. It jumped out at me. Afraid to articulate what I perceived it to be, I answered Lois’ question with a question: “Well, what do you see?”
She raised her arms, placing her palms against each other in the prayer position. For Lois, it was an observation. But for me, this was confirmation that God hears our cries and He still answers prayers. Lois turned around in the chair to get curled as she affirms “I guess God just wants us to know He is praying for us.” My eyes overflowed with tears. Every tear that had fallen was my thank you note to God. Sometimes the answers to our prayers stares us in the face, and yet goes unrecognized, until God sends a messenger to point it out, or speak a confirming word. I’m not quite out of the pit but I will get through this because God is with me and God is praying for me!