Today at church, I was reminded of an experience I had as a missionary in Detroit, nearly 10 years ago, that completely changed my life, and about which I’ve never written. That’s changing today.
Every now and then I am reminded that I’m part of something that is both enormous and very personal, and it is a privilege to go through life alongside other people (family, friends, scrapbookers, so forth).
Here’s how my small miracle, 10 years gone and still as fresh as if it were yesterday, went down:
We were working with a woman who had stopped coming to church because she couldn’t kick her smoking habit. We invited her to try a stop-smoking program that involves, among other things, putting unfamiliar tastes in your mouth to help your brain stop triggering the need to smoke. In short, it requires a lot of grapefruit juice.
Our friend wanted to try the program so badly, knowing that she’d feel better about coming back if she could just stop smoking. But she was already working 2 jobs to support herself and her young son, and explained to us that she had no money to buy grapefruit juice.
Somehow, before I thought about what I was saying, I told her, “We’ll get you some grapefruit juice. Don’t worry about that.” My companion looked at me like I was an alien, and back in the car as we drove away, she said, “So.. where are WE going to get grapefruit juice?” Missionaries live off of their own funds for 18 months (2 years for guys), and let’s just say that a missionary’s monthly allowance is not luxurious by any means. So non-luxurious that we budgeted to have enough food by the end of each month. So there’s no way we could buy anybody any grapefruit juice. I remember praying pretty anxiously right then that somehow we would be able to fulfil my promise, that now seemed so rash.
We got home to our apartment and had a phone message waiting for us - another lady who wasn’t actively coming to church, but whom we’d been trying to get in contact with for several weeks. She wanted to meet us the next day for lunch at the restaurant near her apartment complex. We met her for lunch, were able to talk to her, and we had a good time.
As we were leaving, she said, “Oh, Sisters! I have a box of extra food for you up in my apartment that I’d like you to have, or else you can donate it.” We said ok (never ones to look gift food in the mouth), and we went up with her to get the box of food. As I was putting the box in the trunk of our car, I noticed that there in the box, at the back corner, there were two large cans of .. can you guess? Grapefruit juice.
Chalk it up to the stress of being a missionary, but my companion and I both burst into tears right there, staring into the trunk of our car. How is it possible that the Great God of the Universe heard a prayer for grapefruit juice? But He did. We drove right over to our friend’s house, told her the story, and SHE burst into tears.
I was moved to a new area very soon after this experience, but (has this become a theme in the past couple of days or what?) it shows me, looking back through the long years, that no effort we make is wasted. No good thing done, however small, is ever done in vain. No prayer sincerely made goes unheard. Sometimes we get to see rewards and evidence, and most of the time we don’t. I think that’s also part of it.
Your turn: I don’t think you have to be a religious person to believe that sometimes things happen for a reason, in a connected and coherent and inexplicable way. I’d love to hear about a miracle in your life, small or large. Good reflection for a quiet Sunday, no? :)
If you don’t feel like sharing here, write it down, and make a page to remember it. This is stuff that provides evidence of the quote in the previous post. :D