A few years back, I was in the grocery store picking up a few items. As I was standing in the line waiting to go through the checkout lane, I noticed the woman that was right in front of me. It was not her outward appearance that struck me, but it was her demeanor. She was frustrated and seemed easily irritated. I felt compelled to ask her if she was ok. All of a sudden, she began to tell me about her heartache.
She told me that she had two boys. One had already moved away from home, and she was still in touch with him. Her younger son ran away from home, as a teenager, and had been gone for two years. She had not heard one word from him that entire time. She was worried to the point of feeling sick about the whole situation. She had tried contacting her son’s friends to see if they could tell her something. Every place she looked turned up a dead-end. I’m not sure what triggered this woman’s emotions in the store so strong, maybe it was two years to the day that he had left. I don’t know what else was going on in her life, but what I did know is that she was in pain. I had boys at that time that were about the same age; so I had a lot of compassion for her. I knew that if I went that long without being in contact with my sons that I would be a hot mess.
I wanted to say or do something, but I wasn’t sure what to do or how to do it right there in the store. She was almost finished checking out of the grocery line, and I told her that I would pray for her son to contact her. She thanked me and walked out the door. As she left, I had already begun praying. I immediately heard the Lord say, “It’s easy to tell someone you will pray; it’s harder to go out of your way to actually do it.” I knew that I had to pray for her. I could tangibly feel my heart pounding. My spirit was stirred to do something instead of giving lip service. You’ve heard the expression, “Actions speak louder than words.” The world does not only need to hear about the Lord, but they also need to see His love in action through us. It is when we move out of our comfort zone, that God always shows up. God’s heart was moving with compassion for this woman; and He wanted to use me to speak life to her.
I knew I was supposed to pray for her right there on the spot, but I took the easy way out. I just told her that I would pray for her. Remember, she did not know me. She didn’t know that I really would pray for her. The only way for her to really know that was to pray with her there at the store. God was not done yet. The stirring within me was getting stronger. So I asked the Lord to keep her from leaving the parking lot and allow me to find her, and then I would go and pray for her.
It’s funny how God orchestrates things to be very specific at times. Usually when I go to the grocery store, I have a cart filled with groceries. Rarely do I ever just walk in for a few items. On this particular day, because of that, I was in and out very quickly.
As I walked out of the store, I spotted her in the parking lot. She was parked two or three cars away from my vehicle; and she was still putting groceries in her car. I walked over to her car and I said, “I know that I told you that I would pray for you and your son, but I wanted you to know that I meant it. So would it be okay if I prayed with you right now?” With tears in her eyes, she said “yes.” I prayed specifically that her son would call her so that she would know that he was okay. We talked for a few more minutes. Before I left, I gave her my phone number and told her to call if she just needed someone to listen. We said goodbye. She leaned over and gave me a hug and thanked me. I left there and went home.
About one hour later, she called me crying. They were tears of joy, tears of amazement and tears of relief. Her son that we had just prayed for called her on the phone. I knew that God would answer her prayer; I just didn’t realize how fast He would work on her behalf. He wanted this woman to know that He loved her. He wanted her to know that He heard our prayers. He loves us and He loves our children. He cares about everything, every detail of our life.
I have never spoken to her again. I probably wouldn’t know her if I saw her. God made an impact in her life that day. Seed was planted that God is a good God and He cares.
While thinking of this woman and the compassion the Lord had for her, this scripture came to mind:
Matthew 9:36 (NKJV)36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd
This story is a good reminder to me of how important hearing God’s voice should be for a Christian. Notice that there were two ways that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me. I was stirred in the spirit to the point that my physical body could feel my heart beating fast. In this situation, I did not sense His peace to just walk away and pray from a distance. The lack of peace told me that I was to do something. I also heard the words that were spoken to me. These are two different ways that the Lord speaks to me.
What happened that day was not just about this woman. God gave her hope for her future and for her son’s. If God hadn’t answered her prayer so quickly, she probably still would have been encouraged. Yet He also answered her prayer request in such a tangible way, that He made Himself real to her in that moment. No one can ever take that away from her.
For me, it was a reminder that when the Lord speaks, I need to listen and be obedient. You never know how you can change someone’s life by simply listening for the Lord’s voice.