A few months ago, I was in a rather desperate place, really needing to see God move in my life. I needed to see something tangible to let me know that He heard me, and that my whispered prayers (and also screams and shouts) weren’t just futile attempts to cope with my pain. One day, while I was driving to work, I literally cried out to Him: “God, I need to see your hand!” Those were my exact words.
Now when I prayed–or rather, shouted–that prayer, I was expecting a particular response. Something like a phone call from one of my spiritually deep friends saying that God told them to tell me that He loved me, and that I was not forgotten. You know, something like that. Yeah, no. That’s not what happened at all.
I had left for lunch a few minutes early that day. This is still the same day that I was shouting at God in the car. I was driving to Babies R Us to get stuff for my kids. As I was driving, I saw this young girl, late teens, early twenties maybe, walking along the side of the road, pushing her baby in an umbrella stroller. The road was rugged with no sidewalks, and as I was passing her, I saw the strain on her face as she tried to walk on the road without endangering her baby. Even as I drove by cautiously, I felt like my car was way too close to her stroller. And that’s what caught my attention.
It takes a whole lot for me to reach out to people I don’t know. That’s not a thing that I do–especially a stranger on the street. But that pained expression on her young face, seeing her struggle with that baby, it tugged at my heart. And I now know that heart tug was really the Holy Spirit tapping me on the shoulder.
I turned around in the middle of the street, rolled down my window, and posed a question to this young woman I didn’t know and had never seen before: “Excuse me ma’am. I know you don’t know me, but do you want a ride?” I asked, only half-confident that I was doing the right thing. “Yes!” she exclaimed without a moment’s hesitation. I could hear the relief in her voice.
I pulled over to the side of the road and helped her in. I have two kids. Her son in the stroller just happened to be about the same size as my son, and he fit ever so neatly into my son’s car seat. I folded up the umbrella stroller and placed it in my hatchback while she buckled her son into the car seat. We both got back in the car and I started to drive.
“Where are you headed?” I asked. “I’m headed to State Court. I have to pay a traffic ticket.” “Oh, I can take you there, no problem. I’m Whitney, by the way.” She introduced herself to me. I’ll call her Paige. We chatted during the short drive to State Court. She was a young, single mom who had moved down here from New Jersey. She had an unpaid parking ticket from back home that she forgot about. The ticket suspended her license, unbeknownst to her, which resulted in a ticket and her car being towed when she was stopped by the police down here in Georgia. She was working a minimum wage job, with no money to get the car out of impound, so there she was, walking to court to handle her ticket.
She was headed back to Jersey the next day to live with her mother who could give her more support with her son. She had some job interviews lined up in Jersey as well. Once she got a little money up and got back on her feet, she planned to come right back to Georgia to try it again.
We pulled up the courthouse. “I actually used to work in State Court,” I told her, “maybe I can help you. Do you know where you’re going?” “I have no idea,” she replied. I represented clients with misdemeanor cases in State Court for two years, so I knew the lay of the land. So we got out of the car, got the umbrella stroller, put baby in stroller, and headed into the courthouse. We located her designated courtroom on the screen in the lobby. It was the exact courtroom I was in before I stopped working in State Court and moved on to my present job. Imagine that.
As we rode the elevator up to the courtroom, I explained the courtroom procedure to Paige, the pet peeves of the judge, (one of which was children in the courtroom), and gave her general advice about how to handle her case. “It’s been a while since I’ve been here and there are a lot of new prosecutors,” I told her as I got off the elevator, “but maybe I’ll recognize a familiar face.”
As we walked into the waiting area outside of the courtroom, I looked through a conference room window and locked eyes with one of the prosecutors for that courtroom. And I knew her. I knew her well. She was talking with someone else at that moment, so we waited. Now, I was getting anxious. What was I going to say to the prosecutor? “Hey, girl! How are you? How’s the fam? Right, so I just picked up this complete stranger off the street and drove her here. Can you help her?”
I laugh now, as I reflect on that moment, because that’s essentially what I said. After chatting it up, I explained the situation and told her that if there was anything she could do to help Paige, it would be so greatly appreciated. I won’t bore you with all of the mundane legal details of handling Paige’s case, but in the end, the prosecutor was such a huge help. Paige ended up getting her case dismissed and not having to pay any money at all. And the prosecutor wrapped up Paige’s case before lunch, so she didn’t even have to wait until her assigned 1:30 p.m. court time to handle her case. We got to the courthouse at about 11:30 a.m. We were finished by noon.
Paige and I exited the building. I was just shaking my head at this point. There was nothing I could really say. I was just in awe. We piled back into the car, baby and all, and I drove off, headed to her apartment. When I saw just how far she lived from the courthouse, I was blown away. During the 15-minute car ride, I took in the route, all the way back to Paige’s apartment, just so I could get a feel for how long of a walk it really was. And it was a really long walk. An unimaginable, exhausting trek for a mom with a 13-month-old son in a flimsy umbrella stroller.
I pulled up in front of her building and asked if I could pray with her before she got out. She agreed and we prayed. She also lived on the very top floor (third or fourth level, maybe) of her building, so I helped her carry the stroller up the steps, while she carried her son. Once we got to her door, I wished her well and left.
I got back in my car, and just sat there and cried. I had seen the hand of God, but not in the way I was expecting. It was amazing. God used me to bless someone else, and blessed me in the process. I didn’t receive a reassuring word or a prophesy that day, but without a doubt, I had experienced God. The reassurance I felt from helping Paige was exactly what I had asked God for, and exactly what I needed. I had seen the hand of God, and it touched my heart.