Standing in the gap, part 3 – The Lost Son

When I was a little girl my mom would do this rather therapeutic thing. When she was frustrated or needed fresh air, she’d go for a drive. These little excursions usually took place at night and it seemed that I was her traveling companion.

prodigal son2I remember driving down the county road, which at that time was two lane, desolate, not lighted nor far from our home. On one of our first outings, I was scared. Not that mom wasn’t a good driver, she was; however, she didn’t drive much or so it seemed. That was a time when we walked or road our bikes to school, church was just a few miles from the house, one set of grandparents lived near the church and the other two streets behind us. Driving wasn’t always necessary. I was scared because it was dark, I mean really dark and I was certain we were lost. In a slight panic I asked her if she knew where she was going and if we’d be ok. Her calming voice was always, “Yes”.

It’s funny that I felt that way—lost. I grew up believing that I was a human magnet. No matter where I went, I was sure to attract a lost child, missing dog or confused senior. I’ve carried a scared 5 year old down the escalator of a department store, found a toddler in the middle of the street without a parent nearby, road the elevator with a claustrophobic elderly woman, stayed with a frightened child who was lost in a crowd, just to name a few. A human magnet, that’s me. I’ve never given it any credence or extra thought, but I’m certain it’s a condition I was born with.

Just today, while standing in my store I was approached by a young man of slight build, kind of pleasant looking, clean and good teeth. (Some girls like good hair or biceps. I’m a teeth kind of gal.) He was nervous in the start of his petition (usually strangers want our restroom.) He mentioned that he’d been up and down the street looking for help, but that people in general were rude and disinterested. Chris went on to explain that he and his sister were attempting to get back home to Georgia, but that they had been left stranded by their traveling companions. They took his wallet or cell phone; however, he had the car but no gas or food. They had spent the last couple of nights in the car and had only managed to garner $10 and was now asking for my help.

Now let me just stop here for a quick minute. Do you see…human magnet? If it’s not a condition, then I’m certain that God has placed a beacon or marker near me that only people in distress can see. I liken it to the directional markers leading up to a homeless camp. Only those privy to the code painted on a rock or scratched into a tree can see them.

As a mom to grown children, I act like a surrogate mom in situations like these, which is far less intimidating (I hope). With that said, the questions and dialogue began as he shared his story and I listened. I explained that I was willing to help and as I searched through my purse for money and then onto the stash of snacks under the counter, I loaded a bag full of bottled water and treats. I told him that I have this resolution where I pray for a stranger a day and that today, I believed he was my stranger. With that his eyes welled up and he began to cry. prodigal sonThe story of the prodigal son immediately came to mind as I told him that only Jesus could truly help as he stood there broken and lost. I could only do so much, but where he wanted his life to go would be between him and God. Shortly thereafter, we said our goodbyes and my prayers for Chris and his sister Liz began and continue.

Babies, young people and the elderly always get to me. My heart was aching for Chris because he’s lost—not just somewhere on the map, but lost in life. I’d like to think God was softening his heart while we spoke or maybe he knew that there was a praying mama somewhere in Georgia waiting for his sweet face to show up at her door. Maybe it was a little of both, but no matter what, God will always be there for him. Like the prodigal son, He is always waiting with open arms to receive His children back, and sometimes, we’re called upon to point them in the right direction.

How are you doing with your stranger a day prayer challenge?

Until next time, stay chic


Read the parable of the Lost Son; Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)

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