After work I picked up Allyson and raced over to Walmart to pick up a few essentials before Bible study. I couldn't find some things, and Allyson had to go to the bathroom, and the wait at the deli counter was interminable. So by the time I hunted down the last item, some jalapeno chips for Bill, I was beyond frazzled.
It has been a hard week as I've been letting go of some things that stand between me and God. I've lost some sleep, and that has been a good thing because I've had some really amazing times of intimacy with God during those wee hours of the night. But last night in the chip aisle, those old doubts began needling me. It's all your imagination. God isn't real. This is all there is.
"God, help me," I prayed silently. "I can't question my faith right now. I just can't." I heard nothing, felt nothing.
I pulled Allyson's hand and propelled her toward the front, past all the beguiling candies and cereals and toys. "We've got to hurry or we'll be late for Bible study," I reminded her. After a 10-minute wait at one of the "express" lanes, we finally headed out to the car--just 15 minutes before I needed to leave for church.
I'd just strapped Allyson into her car seat and was climbing into the car when I heard a woman's voice behind me. I turned and saw a blonde-haired woman idling behind my car in a van, with beaded jewelry in her hand.
I sighed and braced myself for another sob story. I forced myself to smile, but my arms were crossed. She told me she was a single mom of three children, and she had no job but was supporting her family by making jewelry.
I figured she was probably lying, but I felt a tug anyway. Give.
I pulled out a five and handed it to her. "I'm afraid I don't have time to pick out some earrings," I said.
Her smile was dazzling. "May God bless you double for what you've done," she said with an intensity I've never heard before.
My eyes filled with tears. "I need that blessing today," I said.
And right there in the Walmart parking lot, with the heat of her van's exhaust hitting my ankles, this stranger quoted scripture after scripture to me. She didn't just quote scriptures, she proclaimed them with ecstasy. "God is your rock. Your fortress. Your strength. He's your deliverer, your comforter, your provider. He shelters you under his wings. He protects you on every side."
Although she knew nothing of the doubts I've been grappling with, she gave me the key. "Immerse yourself in the Word," she said. "Pray the scriptures. Say it out loud: 'No weapon formed against me will prosper.'"
Tears slipped down my cheeks. "Thank you, thank you," I kept repeating. "Thank you for being bold enough to talk to a stranger this way."
She told me a little of her story and how she had come to this boldness because God had been so good to her. I could see in her face that she had had a hard life, yet there was a softness and a light in her. For the second time in my life, I wondered if God might have actually sent me a real angel. I have no doubt she was a messenger. Whoever she was, this Rhonda who sells handmade jewelry, she was an angel to me last night.
Oh how He loves me!