On learning her surname, I realised I knew her parents. Ruth came from a wonderful Christian family. Her father had been to our church several times and was much respected, loved and appreciated by all of us. Having experienced something similar in our family, my wife and I could readily identify with him and his wife.

We had a business attached to our home and our son, John, worked with me. I told him about Ruth, who was in the hospital, and he agreed to visit her. John had joined the local Baptist youth group and they were having a barbecue that evening. The hospital agreed Ruth could go with John and she was pleased to be invited.

The next morning when John arrived, he told me he was embarrassed by the way Ruth had dressed and behaved. I was shocked by this, finding it difficult to believe. Later my wife and I went to visit Ruth in hospital. Again, Ruth was respectful and thankful we had called. I asked her if she enjoyed the barbecue the previous night and she looked at me. When I said we were John's parents, she said, "Ah, yes."

We prayed with Ruth, which pleased her, then gave her our phone number should she need to contact us. The next day, Ruth rang and asked if we could pick her up from a shopping centre. My wife went and brought Ruth home. Ruth stayed with us and we phoned her parents. It was agreed we would purchase bus tickets and advise times so her father could be at the terminal when she arrived. Ruth was exemplary in every way during her time with us. It was as if she was our daughter. She was a lovely, kind and gentle young woman.

The morning came for Ruth to go to the bus station. She was finishing breakfast, ready to go with my wife. I wished her all the best and went to open up the business for the day. John arrived early and I said, "Ruth is just going. If you come through now, you can say cheerio."

We went through and John said, "Dad, that is not Ruth." We Scottish migrants have learned Australian idioms, so I can say I was like a stunned mullet. "John," I said, "I know this is Ruth." "Well," he told me, "this is definitely not the Ruth who came with me." There was obviously another girl by the name of Ruth and she was the one John took to the barbecue. And it seems "our" Ruth only agreed that John took her to the barbecue in an uncertain, post-drug state of mind. All the evidence seemed to suggest one thing and, if my son had not come early that morning, I would have always had the wrong impression of this young woman. The Lord doesn't make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person's thoughts and intentions. 1 Samuel 16:7. Bob Penman is retired and lives in Whyalla, South Australia.


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