We’re back with the Listen Close, Listen Well Series. We took a break last month because of the Grounded Series, but now we’re back with a powerful story about listening from the lovely, Lisa Appelo.
Serving a Stranger
By: Lisa Appelo
My eyes fluttered open at the sound of my cell phone ringing. Reaching for it on the bedside table, I saw it was my oldest daughter.
Having launched several children from home, I’ve learned to take their calls when they call – whether I’m in the grocery line or tackling my to-do list or just nodding off to sleep. So when her call came in, I answered.
“Hey! What’s up?” I asked, trying to hide my sleepiness.
But this wasn’t a call to chat or catch up. She’d seen something and was torn about how to respond, whether to respond. She began to explain that she had been driving home from work and as she exited the interstate, she saw a woman next to the off-ramp holding up a cardboard sign. The woman looked to be in her mid-30s with a small frame and dyed blonde highlights.
Her sign indicated she had no job and needed money.
Should she help or not? Handing off money wasn’t always the wisest and was temporary at best. Driving the woman somewhere was too risky. And if she stopped, what was she getting herself into?
But she couldn’t ignore the nudge to help. Coming off the exit, she made a U-turn and pulled over. That’s when she called me but even as she talked, she formed a plan.
“I’ll park at Huddle House, Mom. It’s just across the street. And then skateboard over and invite her to breakfast.”
As we hung up, I had mixed sentiments. I was grateful for her compassionate heart, the way she saw need, but I also wanted her protected from the kind of messy hard that might be involved.
And, really, can problems that land someone on the roadside holding a cardboard sign untangle over one bought meal?
I moved on with my morning, starting breakfast and chores and schooling with my younger kids. About an hour later, my cell rang again.
This time she was bubbling over with an update.
After inviting the woman to Huddle House, they began to talk. The woman said she’d been holding her sign for 4 hours and had received $4.00. Seems she was from the area but found herself jobless and homeless.
When they walked into Huddle House, the woman spotted her former boss. She flagged him down and as they began to catch up, the three now sat down for breakfast. My daughter listened as the woman poured out her story – a series of poor decisions, an accident that left her without a car and a breakup that left her without a home.
More conversation showed that the boss was a stable business owner who seemed truly involved with his employees. He updated the woman on the business, on various co-workers.
And then he began offering the woman some real help — he could hire her back; he would find her a ride to work. He admonished and counseled her. As they rose to go, he paid the entire breakfast bill and turning to my daughter, chidingly cautioned her to be careful with strangers.
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” -Matthew 25:37-40
When the Holy Spirit prompts, I can so often push back —
The need can look overwhelming.
My help can seem inadequate.
The nudge can feel risky.
The situation can look messy.
And what will we be getting ourselves into?
But God doesn’t ask us to solve the problem; he only asks us to serve the person.
Our job is simple — to cooperate with God. To see need and as we’re able, to meet need.
On this day, God had asked for a U-turn and an invitation to Huddle House. His Providential provision was already in place.
Lisa Appelo is a single mom to 7, young widow, author & crazy in love with Christ. She shares soul-deep encouragement for the adventure of faith at LisaAppelo.com. Find her family devotional Countdown to Christmas: Unwrap the Christmas Story with Your Family in 15 Days here or connect with her on Instagram.
Read the rest of the Listen Close, Listen Well Series:
Not Ours to Give Away by Tiffany Parry
Lean In My Daughters by Kerrington Sweeney
Listening When It’s Loud by Teri Lynne Underwood
Fear and Doorknobs by Kim Osterholzer
What God Wants by Crystal Hall
Preparing a Place by Abby Banfield
The Luxury of Listening by Ashley Hales
His Grace Isn’t Just for Today by Abby McDonald
The God Dare by Kate Battistelli
Out of Your Comfort Zone by Tracey Casciano
Got Milk? God’s Got Answers! by Christy Mobley
On Hearing God and Being Surprised by Kristin Hill Taylor
Put On Your Listening Ears by Karina Allen
Letting Go in Order to “Go” by Martha Reid
It is Over! by Jami Amerine
When Listening Leads to Obeying by Kristine Brown
Are You Praying for Revelation? by Niki Hardy
Hearing Crickets When You Pray? by Anne Watson
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