My husband had minor surgery last week. While he was sedated and in recovery, I waited in the designated area.
After a few hours, the sub-zero, freezeresque climate got to me. The administrative associate had my cell phone, so I calculated it was ok to wait outside for a few minutes to warm my bones lest I end up on a gurney next to my husband with blood frozen solid in my veins.
I sat with my book on a concrete bench.
About five minutes later, a Hispanic woman in her mid-50’s walked cautiously up. She was slightly dishelved looking with sunscreen not fully or evenly rubbed in on her face. Her sweater askew. She approached tentatively. Asked to borrow my phone. I must have looked a little nervous. Her eyes pleading she whisphered her wallet had been stolen. I thought for a second that this would be the last I’d see of this phone, but handed it to her anyway. As she tried to dial, we both noticed how badly she was shaking. She asked me to dial a number for her.
I handed her the phone as it started ringing. Her son. An answering machine. I heard her tell how her wallet was stolen, she had no money and she was scared. She hung up. I asked who else I could call. She said her ex-daughter-in-law. Please.
We dialed Jennifer. She answered. My new friend spent 30 minutes talking to her animatedly, tears and exclamation points, in Spanish. I read my book quietly next to her, both of us sharing a concrete bench our legs touching in a straight line.
When she hung up, I asked if she was ok. She told me her story, and her son’s. Maria was visiting her son from Austin, TX. He’s going through a divorce and having difficulty with his health. He has two small children. He’s 28. She explained how her wallet had been grabbed. At Publix. As we spoke she told me she’s a Christian and praying for her son to get help. She told me Alex was desperate, struggling, he was trying to find some sense of peace and was even looking for a local pastor for guidance. I remembered the Christ Fellowship invites in my purse. I gave one to her, and told her that young people seem to love my church. I’m sure Alex could find a pastor at one of our campuses at CF if he was still looking.
During the rummaging through my purse I saw my billfold, I had only $20. I took the $20 bill out and pressed it into Maria’s hand. She stared at me a mixture of relief and disbelief evident. I told her that I regretted it was all I had, but I didn’t want her waiting all day for her son to return with no money.
She started crying more and hugging me. Then hugging me some more. Suddenly, she looked to the sky and started reciting: “2 No se olviden de brindar hospitalidad a los desconocidos, porque algunos que lo han hecho, ¡han hospedado ángeles sin darse cuenta!” (Hebrews 13:2)
Even in Spanish, I got the idea of the verse from the words I recognized and her gaze to the sky. She threw her arms around my neck again and then placed both her palms on my cheeks. She said I know. Angeles. I know. God sent you. You are an angel. I promise you can tell me. I won’t tell anyone. He sent you. I know He did. You’re my angel.
She was so happy that I felt a little guilty trying to dissuade her. I told her that I’m sure God did use me sitting on that bench. I told her I believe that, too, but I also assured her that I was far from any angel. I am just another person that God loves, just like she is. She didn’t believe me. She kept crying and hugging me. Her smile growing bigger and her eyes brighter each time she looked in my face.
That seemed to be all she needed to find the courage to walk back up the street to wait at her son’s apartment building. She’d start to leave then she hugged me some more. Thanked me again and again. I thought to give her my phone number on the invite. I wrote it out for her because I knew in a little bit she’d realize that angels don’t actually need cell phones. That she’d have my number to call if she needed something before her son got home. She would walk a few steps down the sidewalk, then turn again and wave over her shoulder. Suddenly happy and shy all at the same time. Her tear stained checks and radiant smile making her beautiful in the light of the mid-day sun somehow. Her sweater straightened and her gait more steady.
Later that afternoon, she didn’t call but Jennifer did. Jennifer hung up after a few seconds of me saying “hello.” When I looked at the number and recognized it from earlier, I realized Maria must have told her the story so convincingly that Jennifer was checking in to see if it could be true. Had Maria really met her angel today? Easy to check, angels wouldn’t need to answer their cell phones. Instead, there I was. Just an instrument.
I tell you this story to introduce you to Hebrews 13:2 and to set the landscape for a concept we’re going to explore over the next few weeks. Here is a thought. What if we are God’s instruments on earth just like He tells us we are? What does that practical application in our lives look like? Does it look like a lady on a sidewalk needing to borrow a cell phone? Is it just that ordinary?
I was in the best place to help Maria at just the right time. I didn’t have to give her my phone. I could have said no. Her day would have been different, as would have mine. What if He is relying on us to make the difference for Him in someone’s life? I got it right last Friday. I don’t always. I want to get it right more. I want to be more reliable when called upon. I want to recognize that call. His calling.
Something to think about this week as we begin to dive in deeper. Can He count on you to be His hands, His feet, His heart here on earth?
How reliable are we? For Him.
How reliable are you?
Scripture for this week: Hebrews 13:2 “Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.”