I am haunted tonight by the face of a woman I saw today. The temperature outside was 104 degrees according to my car. As I took my daughter to her ice skating lesson, I saw someone lying on the side of the road in the grass under an oak tree. Several months ago, my mother-in-law fell on her sidewalk, and several people drove by without stopping to help. Somehow I felt compelled to check on the welfare of this stranger.
I turned the car around and pulled into an adjacent parking lot. Then I grabbed the cold bottle of water out of my purse and tentatively walked over to her. She seemed to be in a daze. She was wearing a blue cotton t-shirt and green pants. Two bags filled with what looked like trash sat beside her. I asked her if she was okay or if she needed help. She lay there, looking up at me, and moved her mouth without making a sound. I was about to call 911 when she reached out for the water bottle and asked me for the time. As she spoke, I noticed that her teeth were black and misshapen. There was dirt on her arms from where she’d been lying under the tree.
When I told her it was 2:00, she got up and said she needed to get to another bus stop because the bus went by that one only at rush hour. She asked if I could drive her to a different bus stop.
I felt torn. My daughter was in the front seat of my car. The woman was much larger than I am, and I felt uneasy. So I told her I was sorry but that I couldn’t take her. She was gracious and thanked me for the water.
As I drove away, I kept wondering if I did the right thing. I didn’t even ask for her name or give her mine. I may have been the only ambassador for Christ that she met that day, and I was not sure — am still not sure — that I made the right choice in not driving her to another bus stop. Did I mention how hot it was?
I can’t get her face out of my mind. I pray for her and pray that God will protect her wherever she may be tonight. I suspect she was homeless and rode buses in an attempt to stay cool. I don’t blame her for that.
If my husband had been with me, I think we would have taken her to the bus stop.
Jeremiah would have prayed and received an answer from the Lord about what to do. I don’t remember consciously praying…something inside me just…moved. I guess that’s the Holy Spirit. I grabbed the water bottle before walking out the door because I like to have one with me “just in case” I need it. I guess today the Lord had me grab it for another reason. I pray the water cooled her body and helped her get to where she was going.
Did I do the right thing? Should I have done more? The part of me raised up in caution says that I probably should not have stopped at all…you know, stranger danger. The other part of me remembers how incongruous those black teeth seemed when she spoke to me. Her voice was intelligent and rich. But she was carrying around two bags of trash and sleeping in the shade at a bus stop.
The Lord spoke to Jeremiah when he stressed out about the wickedness all around him and about his enemies who kept trying to hurt him:
“If you return to me, I will restore you
so you can continue to serve me.
If you speak good words rather than worthless ones,
you will be my spokesman.
You must influence them;
do not let them influence you!
I do want to be a speaker–and a writer– of good words! God said in those verses the same thing mamma always told us: two wrongs don’t make a right. I hope the turn I took this afternoon was the right one….and wish I had had the courage to do more.