Thursday, April 24, 2014

Open Mind, Open Heart, Open Hand by Paula Roten

Our Life Action revival concluded with a theme being placed in my heart: Open Mind, Open Heart, Open Hand. God always speaks to me through the preaching of His Word. I just didn't expect to be tested on it so soon after the revival ended. 

On Friday after the close of the revival on Wednesday, my mother and I got up early in order to get to her doctor's appointment. We left the house with about 10 extra minutes to spare in case of heavy traffic. Shortly after I left the house, I pulled up toward a stop sign. The car ahead of me stopped and an elderly woman got out. As she headed back my way, I could see she had matted blood on her face under her nose and was wearing an oxygen tube. My first thoughts were, "What is about to happen? What do I do? I can't pull around since I'm so close to her car. Why is all that blood there?"

As she approached, I could see a look in her that seemed to be genuine fear or confusion. Waving a blood-stained piece of paper, she said, "Can you take me to this doctor's office? I can't find it!" 

I looked at the piece of paper and saw that it was driving instructions that had her leaving the hospital and driving to this doctor's office. A few hundred thoughts ran through my mind in an instant: Is this a scam? Is she for real? Are we in danger? Does she need an ambulance? We're going to be late for our doctor's appointment! 

Yes, I had a choice right then. Do I help this lady, or do I get my mother to her own doctor's appointment? After all, it had been set up for a month now. She couldn't miss it.

I asked the lady, "Are you able to drive and follow me?"

She replied that she could. 

So I began driving. I had no idea where that office was, even though I drive this particular road every single day. As address numbers approached, I realized I had chosen the right street, but the wrong direction. I was going to have to turn around. I pulled over and got out. I went back to the lady's car and told her I was going to turn around and go the other way. She asked me if I had a cell phone. She then gave me another blood-stained paper, this one with the doctor's phone number on it. I returned to my car, gingerly holding the papers without getting blood on myself, and called the office, asking for directions.

As I drove, another car got in between me and my needy person. I slowed down, pulled over, and waited for that car to pass. Then I got back in front of her. As I approached the turn in for the doctor's office, I slowed and put on my turn signal. I turned...and she kept going straight on! The way the turn in was designed, I couldn't get out to chase her down. All I could do was honk my horn, but it did no good. She was gone!

I was at a loss for what to do. I decided to go into the office and give them the papers, telling them the story of how this woman, needing help, had stopped a complete stranger. 

Back in my car, I realized I had 15 minutes to get my mother to her appointment on time. It would take us at least 30 minutes. We would be late. 

As I drove, I had quite a few questions for God: Why would you let this woman stop me and then not let me actually help her?! Since she gave me her papers, did she even know where she needed to go? Did she make it? Is she okay? Why, God? What was Your purpose in all this?

My mother and I came up with several possibilities, but no conclusions: 1) God was testing me to see if a person was more important to me than my schedule. 2) God was showing my mother that this poor lady had no one, yet my mother had had my sister and me to help her during her current 3 months of illness. She was overwhelmed with gratitude toward God for His provision to her. 3) This wasn't a person at all, but an angel who had been sent by God. 

Finally, we made it to our appointment....late, but with no harm done. Mother was still seen and all turned out well. But we couldn't stop thinking about this dear lady (angel?) and what God had meant by it all.

That night at dinner, I couldn't wait to tell my husband about this strange incident, thinking he might give me some added insight or reason it happened. I told him my story, and his reply was, "Well, let me tell you about the start of my day."

He had gotten up early to get to the gym but realized he needed to go get gas. In the dark, he pulled into the gas station and was followed by another car. A clean-cut, neatly dressed young man got out and approached him. He told him he needed to get to a certain destination but needed gas money. Could my husband give him some? My husband's brain was thinking all sorts of things: It's dark and I'm alone in this gas station. Why would he follow me in here? Am I about to be robbed or killed? Is this just a scam? My husband automatically replied, "No, I don't have any money."

As he pumped his own gas, he felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit: "You know that's a lie! You do have some money. This guy might really need some help."

The young man was on the other side of his car, rubbing his head as though at a loss for what to do when my husband approached him with some cash. He thanked him and went to the cashier to pay for the gas. My husband left. 

What a day for both of us! Had we been tested by the Lord today? We were both shown that we didn't have open minds or open hearts. No, our first thoughts had been questions of the other person's motive and our own safety. Thank the Lord for the conviction of the Holy Spirit and for second chances. We truly do want Open Minds, Open Hearts, and Open Hands. Lord, please keep working with us until our first thought is of others and not ourselves...until our first thought is being your hands and heart to a needy world. 

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