Normally, I don't come in the car to pick up the children, but this afternoon was different. We had decided to spend the afternoon exploring nearby parkland as a family.
As my husband and I left for the "early" pick-up, we drove our usual way, through a country lane with bushland on either side. As my husband was driving, he noticed a person lying in the extended nature strip. It looked like this person was in trouble.
We turned the car around, veered off the road and drove onto the nature strip, which was quite thick with bush.
It was as he thought. There was a person lying facedown, her face covered by her hands. My husband got out of the car, checking to see if she was alright. It was apparent that she had been crying and felt a little uncomfortable that he was worried for her wellbeing.
We didn't want her to be left alone, so I stayed with her while my husband went to pick up the children.
As I walked up to her, I introduced myself and asked if she minded me sitting by her side. There we were, two strangers together.
She sobbed. She cried. Her face was buried in her hands, back toward me. I rubbed her back and said nothing.
There is no mistake in God's plans. This was a moment where I could reflect God's love. Jesus wants me to be His hands--to be His voice and just love.
I felt a bit worried. What if I say the wrong thing to this dear woman? I needed to pray, so silently I did just that. I asked God to allow me to speak His words and glorify Him.
Sometimes, we feel so invisible. Sometimes, it's nice to know you are noticed. So I sat beside her, rubbing her back and telling her that she is special, treasured and noticed.
Eventually, she mumbled her pain. It became clear that she was struggling with elements of life we all battle--relationships, responsibility and critical judgment. My heart went out to my "stranger friend." She is a woman who feels like we all do sometimes. Livng a tough life with relentless challenges thrown her way, she felt she could barely breathe through each new hurdle.
As we talked, I finally saw her face. She sat up and looked at me, her face clouded with smudged make-up and her eyes looking lost. What made us both so different? We were both mothers, wives and daughters of Christ. Our struggles were also similar. Through our discussions, it became clear that she did not know how precious, loved and doted upon she is by Christ.
I asked if she had a faith and told her it was the only thing that got me through the tough times.
She mentioned how sceptical she is becoming of Christianity because of her relentless hurdles. I relayed that even though I have a faith, I still have bad things happen to me. Yet somehow my faith always managed to pull me through.
I told her about Jesus and suggested she read Matthew, Mark, Luke or John to see firsthand what Jesus chose to go through for her.
Soon after, my husband returned with the children to collect me. I left her sitting up by the roadside and never learned her name. She has my phone number. I don't know if she will ever phone me for a chat. I don't know if she will read the Gospel stories sometime soon. I just hope she sensed God's love for her.
"Planting seeds" is just that. The dirt covers them up and only God knows the outcome.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-- the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Romans 12:1.
Fiona Beams is a mother, drama teacher and occasional writer, who lives in Mooroolbark, Victoria.
This story is used with permission from Signs Publishing Company. More of these stories can be found in these collections: Ordinary People—Extraordinary God, Ordinary People—Faithful God, and Ordinary People—Generous God