It was a number of years back. A cold and snowy winter night, as I recall. My wife and I and our four daughters were enjoying a warm, cozy evening in our home. The girls were sprawled out on the living room floor leisurely multitasking. Playing a games, reading, drawing, eating popcorn and watching a Disney movie. my wife and I were relaxing in the easy chairs just taking it all in. As parents, we so enjoyed those Saturday evenings, unwinding from a busy week, everyone was happy and we were all together…..
Have you ever sensed the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart to do something out of your comfort zone, but you resisted? And then, after holding back with all your strength, you finally gave in? I’m afraid I have to admit that most of my experiences with the Spirit leading me start out that way. Sadly, there have been those times when I have resisted Him and never took the next step to obey His call. I’ve regretted each of those times. But, when I have yielded to the drawing of the Holy Spirit, I have found that whatever it was He wanted me to do wasn’t so scary after all. And it feels so good to know that at that very moment, you are directly in the center of God’s will for your life. To someone who doesn’t know Christ and how His Spirit draws us, this seems ridiculous and unimportant. The Apostle, Paul, explains it this way in I Corinthians, 2:14; “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them.” But to those of us who know Christ and trust in Him, It’s a big deal. In Galatians chapter 5, in speaking of the fruit of the Spirit, Paul reminds us that since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Now, remember, the Holy Spirit only moves according to the will of the Father. So, even if it seems like an insignificant thing to us, when the Spirit of God is tugging at our heart, He usually has a greater purpose than we can see from down here.
….. For me, as a father, those were special times, just to be at home with my family, all safe and warm. If only Norman Rockwell could have visited us that night with his canvas and brushes in hand! I remember thinking, “it doesn’t get any better than this”. …. That’s about the time the phone rang. It was a local motel with a spa heater that was down and a full house of guests who were not happy campers after stepping into a spa full of cold water! About the last thing I wanted to do at 9 o’clock on a snowy winter night was to leave our snug little refuge in the country and drive into town to work on a spa heater. But, the next day was Sunday and they were good customers, so off I went, complaining to my wife all the way out the door. “Why do motels always have breakdowns on weekends and holiday’s?” Looking back, I can see that my state of mind plunged from one of thankful bliss, into a pit of judgmental thougts and selfish desires. Needless to say, that wouldn’t have been a good time for a heart examination….. Or…. maybe it was???
Arriving at the motel, grumbling to myself, I gathered my tool bag and entered my usual way, through a side door that opened into a hallway that led to the pool room. I stepped inside and was startled by the sound of sobbing! There on the back stairway, was a young girl, who was obviously distressed over something. She sat, head in her hands, about six stairs up from where I was. With a glance, I estimated her to be about 14 years old. Denying that my heart ached for her, I quickly looked away and continued on with my mission. I thought to myself, “what a pitiful sight and sound”. She was crying so uncontrollably that she didn’t even stop when I walked in. Do you ever have a silent conversation with yourself? Don’t tell everyone, but I seem to do that quite often and that night was no exception. Well, maybe it was a conversation with God, but I was doing most of the talking… “That girl doesn’t want me to stop and talk to her…” I greeted the night desk clerk and made my way into the spa equipment room… “The stairway is poorly lit. I would scare her”… I checked out the heater. Found the problem… “What could I do to help her anyway?”… Walking out to my truck to search for the part I needed, I was wishfully wondering ; “maybe she’s gone by now?”… She was still there! Still crying… ” I found the part I needed and decided that I would enter through another door… “I have no idea what I would say to her?”… It took me 30 minutes to get the spa heater up and going. I told the thankful desk clerk, goodnight, and then said to myself,”get out of here!” I turned, fully intending to exit through the “other door”, just as a number of travelers from a small bus were struggling to get themselves and their luggage into the lobby. With no other option, I proceeded down the hall toward my usual door… “She has to be gone by now” I thought. … As I walked toward the door I could to hear the faint sounds of the “evening nightmare”, growing louder with each step I took. The young girl in distress was still sitting on the steps…. “Why hasn’t someone else heard that poor girl and stopped to help her?”… Holding back my emotions, most likely looking similar to a race horse wearing blinders, I burst through the door! I took a deep breath of cold night air and made a beeline to my truck. Once in my truck, I spoke out loud,”Wow! I’m glad that’s over.”… Or was it?
I pulled out my keys, but for some reason, I could not put them in the ignition. I starred at my hand,”Start the truck and let’s go!” Speaking as if my hand could actually hear me. I didn’t know anyone could cry for so long and so hard….”It’s just a girl crying, it happens everyday. NO!, I can’t go in there and talk to her! It’s not smart. All she has to do is scream and accuse me of something and then what defense would I have?”… I sat there, my breath fogging up the truck windows. With my hand I wiped a small opening and gazed out at the snow. It was like God placed in that opening, an image of the “Good Samaritan story”. Only I was the man in the story who refused to take a chance, instead, went out of my way to avoid helping the one in need. I had become the man with the hardened heart. God brought to mind my daughter, who was about the same age as the girl in the stairwell. I felt a pinch of guilt as I thought of my four daughters, home, safe, warm and happy. Was that all that mattered to me? I asked myself, ” What if this was my daughter in there? Would I not want someone to stop and try to comfort her?” I felt my resistance wearing thin. I was ready to switch roles. Softly, the Holy spirit spoke somewhere inside of me. ” Just go pray with the girl”.
Immediately, I got out of my truck and began walking with my eyes glued to the motel door. I began thinking, ” I hope she is still there.” I didn’t have a clue how to approach her. ” God, tell me what to say!” As I opened the door, my questions were answered. I walked up to her and asked,”are you OK?” She looked up. Her hair was in disarray and her eyes were red and saturated. Shaking her head, she responded,” I had a fight with my mom.” I asked her if there was anything I could do to help and she again shook her head. Then I asked,”would it be OK if I prayed with you?” She answered me in such a way that I caught a hint of pleading in her voice.”Yes”. We prayed. At this point it is somewhat puzzling to me. God has, for one reason or another, preserved the details of that night so clearly in my mind, yet I can’t remember much of my prayer? It was like the Holy Spirit took over at that point and said through me what needed to be said that night. I remember simply praying for her and her mother, and asking Jesus to make His love real to her. I trust the Spirit knew how to put the right words in the prayer when I could not do it…. You’ve probably already guessed that in the week that followed, I spent some extra time in the scriptures, especially Romans chapter 8. From that point on, I began to experience verse 26 in a more personal way. It reads,”The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” The girl thanked me for praying with her and that was it. Suddenly I felt a release. A still small voice was saying to me,”you’re done. That’s all I asked you to do.”
I had lost track of time. Back in the truck I looked at my watch. I was only in there two minutes! All that resisting and God only wanted two minutes of my time. I prayed and wept for a while. Partly for the girl and her mother. Mostly because I was so ashamed of the way I had acted. I had become more concerned about coming up with selfish excuses than stopping to check on the troubled girl. How quickly my heart had hardened. At that moment I saw the face flash through my head of someone who had once stopped to pray with me when I was hurting. I drove away, realizing The Lord had not brought me to the motel that night to merely fix a broken spa heater. He brought me there to fix my heart. At least for the time being. I wish I could say that I have never resisted His leading in my life since that night, but that wouldn’t be true. However, since that night He has given me many opportunities to pray with and share testimonies of His love with customers and others that I meet along the way. Maybe you have had experiences similar to mine where you have discovered that The Great Physician will make house calls, motel calls and anywhere calls just to do a heart examination at any time, 24/7.
Today, when I walk into that same motel to do a repair or just drive by. I pray for the girl. I often wonder where she lives? Is she married? Does she have children? Is she a believer? I don’t know her name, but God knows who she is… She would be in her late thirties now. Did those two minutes on that cold winter night, years ago, make any difference in her life? I don’t know if she even remembers. But I remember. I know those two minutes made a difference in my life. I came close to writing that night off to undesirable circumstances. At times like that it helps me take a look at Isaiah, chapter 55. It is an invitation to the thirsty. Check it out sometime when you feel like you need a heart check up. I love the way “The Message” translates the decree from God in verses 8 & 9. “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work. For as high as the sky soars above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” Another translation reads like this,” My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”
Pulling in our drive, my headlights lit up up the freshly fallen snow like a Thomas Kinkade. The deer gracefully scampered across the drive and into the shadows as if to say,” the coast is clear! Drive on!” With the snow crunching under the tires, the truck rolled forward. I saw things in a different light than when I had left home earlier. Instead of looking like a square metal box with windows, our trailer house had now taken on a rather quaint appearance. Even the tires and concrete blocks that I had carefully placed on the roof, to keep the noise down when the wind blew, had become flowing drifts of snow. I remember thinking, “inside that house lies my family. The perfect family.” Oh don’t get me wrong. We had our faults. We were the perfect family because God put us together and He doesn’t make mistakes. He knew we needed each other to love and to forgive and to laugh and cry with. Once inside, the only noise was that of the the furnace blowing it’s heat through the vents. A welcomed sound for I knew it was still working and keeping my family warm. My wife had left a single lamp burning for me with a note slid under it. Quietly, I tip toed into the girls rooms and watched them sleeping for a moment. I looked in to check on my wife, only to find that our Lab, Sandy, had assumed my position on the bed. She opened one eye briefly, before going back to chasing rabbits. She had that look that said,”I see you, but I’m NOT moving over.” … ” What a blessed man I am,” I was thinking, as I carried my old guitar into the bathroom, so as not to wake anyone. I wrote the 1st verse of a song about being a father. This was a good day. One, I pray, that will always leave it’s imprint upon my heart.
Good Night & God’s Blessings Over You,