Standing in the gap

My friend and Bible study hostess, Susan (pronounced Shoe-Shawn you know by now that I give everyone a new pronunciation) lent me a book recently titled “Praying for Strangers, An Adventure of the Human Spirit” by River Jordan. (What a great name.) Susan told us about the author’s resolution to pray for a stranger a day in 2009 on the heels of her two sons’ deployment overseas. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific story of prayer. Susan herself was inspired by the book and took on her own resolution—four months running. She tells us every week about her various ‘stranger of the day’ stories and keeps a journal so she can pray continually.gap 3

Intrigued by Susan’s new found mission, I asked for the book and immediately enjoyed reading the stories River encountered willingly and unwillingly, yet all are filled with God’s hand. I wanted in, and as my mom would say, “Be careful what you ask for because you must might get it.”

On Sundays we have this routine: go to church followed by Sam’s Club for supersized household staples, lunch at home and then an indulgent nap. However last Sunday was a little different for us. We started out with church, but decided on an early lunch followed by our tour of duty at Sam’s. Upon our departure from the mega store, I noticed a woman nodding as she walked away from a customer struggling to put a mattress and box spring on top of his van. We proceeded to get to our car at the far end of the parking lot (the Executive is a firm believer that the walk is necessary exercise). His job is to put the heavier items, like cases of water into the trunk and mine is to put the cart in the return station.

Because we parked in what felt like East L.A., I had to walk back toward the entrance of the store to put the cart away. Upon my return, I saw my husband and daughter standing stoically listening to the gal I’d passed earlier. My eye contact with my daughter was something like “What are you doing?” Her eye contact back was, “Not sure.” A few steps later, “What are you doing?” with full head and facial expressions to which she responded with a look of “Help me!” Now in full mom to the rescue mode, I approached my zombie family and asked, “What’s going on?” Carneisha, the gal they were standing with introduced herself and handed me her identification. She’s an Army veteran with a young daughter who is homeless and had been living in the woods for the last 11 days. Let me stop right there and vent for a quick minute.

There should be no way on God’s green earth that we should ever let a veteran not come home to a house and job. They have agreed to give their life in defense of this country and those countries that pose a threat to either themselves or other nations. We owe it to them and their families. Enough said.

Carneisha went on to say that she’d called different shelters, however, none had openings. The one that did was for pregnant women; however, she did not want to lie just to get a bed. She did find a place to stay that had an opening for $50 a night. Her struggle was she only had $14 to her name. Being the investigative reporter (or nosey child), I asked a lot of questions, to which she handed me a list she’d been given of available non-profit resources. She had written notes everywhere and mentioned that she had a 2 p.m. interview at McDonalds.

When I finished my inquisition, I reached into my purse and pulled out the bank envelope I had ready for Monday’s deposit. I proceeded to hand her the $80 inside. (I say this not to receive credit for my generosity or condemnation because she may use the money for other things. It’s not my place to judge. The point is, the money no longer had any value to me.) She started to cry when I handed it to her and then I said, “I’ve started praying for a stranger a day. I’ll be praying for you.” Her response? “Can you do it right now?” Without hesitation, the four of us stood hand in hand thanking the Lord for his provision and mercy. Upon completion, all of us were crying as we hugged and said our good-byes. We got into our car and Carneisha was gone. No one saw her leave…she just disappeared. That event started my resolution to pray for a stranger a day.

So did God send me someone He knew would give me a jumpstart? Did he send me an angel to see if I’d really pray if asked? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that I was sad when I went to bed that night thinking how warm and comfortable I was when I knew Carneisha and others were not as gap 1fortunate. Keeping her in the front of my mind every day as I journal my experiences, I pray for her, angel or not, because someone has to stand in the gap, and for that, I have never felt so close to God.

It’s a simple step this praying for a stranger thing, believe it or not. It’s just a matter of stepping out of yourself to gain more of the Lord. So I want to challenge you to start your own journey. I promise that you will never feel the same again.

Until next time, stay chic

Vicki

PS, I will be bringing you more prayer stories in the future. Please feel free to share yours with me as well.

John 17:20 (NIV) “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

James 5:16 (NIV) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

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