I was driving in a storm not long ago with 4 kids in the car contemplating how badly I needed to go to the grocery store. I really needed to go but schlepping 4 kids to the store in pouring down rain would only bring out the horrible awful I try so desperately to keep under wraps (the impatience, the snippiness, the exasperated sighs). So I decided to forgo the store and go home. Any time I go to the grocery in the rain I’m reminded of an incident, or divine appointment, I had last summer.
I was trekking through Publix getting a weeks worth of groceries when I heard it storming outside. Unloading groceries in the rain is on the list of “Things I Avoid Like The Plague.” I finished shopping and had one million plastic bags full of groceries to put in my car. Alas, I had forgotten my recyclable bags once again. This is the story of my life. When I pushed my cart outside, I stood under the awning because the rain was now coming down in sheets. I really didn’t have time for this. So I stood there and tossed up a throw away prayer to God. One of those Hail Mary/last ditch effort prayers. “Lord, please make it stop raining long enough for me to get the groceries in my car. Amen.” I pray those kinds of prayers frequently. Just a little throw away pray I doubted God even heard. Then I continued to wait for God to stop the rain so I could make a break for my car.
Then the weirdest thing happened. As I’m standing there I saw someone walking towards me. This man was as dark as night and had the whitest teeth I had ever seen. He approached me holding an umbrella and, in his thick accent, asked if he could help me to my car. He had one of those smiles that is pure joy. Then I became a statue for about 10 seconds. I think I stammered something but I don’t remember what. I nervously accepted his offer and this sweet man walked me to my car holding his umbrella over me so I didn’t get soaked. He then proceeded to help me put my groceries in my car. When we were finished, all I could manage to say was a lame “Thank you.” Then he walked away.
I got into my car and began to cry. I couldn’t believe the kindness this stranger had just shown me. There was no reason he should’ve helped me. He didn’t even know me. And he certainly didn’t work at Publix so he wasn’t getting paid to take me to my car. This made me cry the ugly cry from way down deep. I sat there in my car, in the rain, thinking about the God that loves me. He loves me so much He chose to answer my throw away prayer. He certainly didn’t have to; I’ve walked to the car plenty of times in the rain. What I love is that He answered my prayer in His own way. He knew I just wanted to make it to the car without getting drenched, but instead of stopping the rain, He used a stranger to answer my prayer.
How many times do I pray and not really expect God to answer? I pray half-hearted prayers. I pray prayers for my convenience. Oh ME of little faith. What if I started always praying with the expectation that God would answer my prayers? I know, in a previous post “expectation” was a dirty word. But expectation doesn’t disappoint when it’s in the Lord. What if I considered that God was actually listening every time I threw up a Hail Mary prayer? Would I pray differently? Would I ask for different things? I think this is how God wants us to pray all the time; in constant awareness that He’s listening to His kids. We have his full attention. I’ve been a believer for 24 years and I am still in awe of the goodness of the God I serve.
Pray for big and small things. Why not? He hears you either way.
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