A few weeks ago, I experienced one of the most terrifying nights of my entire life. It all started when I came down with a cold and decided to make a Target run to grab some immunity supplements – my favorite little chocolate brownie bites jumped in my basket, too. I checked out, paid for my items, and walked to my car.
I decided to indulge in my sweet treat for a peaceful moment in my car before heading back to the chaos of a home with three young children.
Suddenly, while I was on my second brownie bite, my back car door swung open on the passenger side. I looked back and saw a woman with sunken eyes and mouth, evidence of drug abuse, wearing all black with a skull-covered handbag.
My head pounded as my thoughts painted the possible next moments as a robbery or worse.
To my relief, the woman looked at me in shock saying, “Wrong car, oh my gosh, I’m so sorry I – wrong car.” She shut the door.
Adrenaline was coursing through my body. I was frozen, dumbfounded, and thought, “Wow, I thought my life was at risk!” I was still a few moments longer and noticed the same dismal woman wandering around the parking lot aimlessly. Once I caught my breath, I began thanking God for a crisis averted and turned my keys in the ignition to leave.
Still, something nagged at me.
If I had never heard the truth of a loving God that freed me from my addiction, that would be me wandering with no purpose out there. I was determined to see this woman as free as I had experienced.
Driving my car up to the wanderer, I rolled down my window and said, “Hey, are you okay?”
She replied, “Oh, are you the one whose car I accidentally walked into?”
I said yes and continued to share, “I just wanted to tell you something. I’m ten years sober from meth.”
She congratulated me and smiled – I wasn’t finished yet.
I told her how much Jesus loved her, how he would stop at nothing to rescue her, how he died for her – proving how much he loved her. I said he wasn’t mad at her, and he saw all the pain she carried.
Before I could finish, she started to break down. Through her tears, she told me a little bit of her story. This wanderer grew up in a good home full of love, but she got into drugs and lost everything she once held dear. Her mom died, and her husband left. She had nothing. She was homeless.
I noticed a cross tattoo on her cheek.
She told me how crazy it was that I stopped and spoke with her because she had just asked God if he was real or not. She shared that she used to be in ministry with her husband. She had faith and then lost it after all she went through. She said when I stopped to speak to her, it was a gift from God, and her faith in him was restored.
I learned her name was Rosie.
At that point, I was still sitting in my car. My heart was bursting. I had to get out and embrace Rosie. She conveyed through tears how countless people had hurt her and robbed her. As a result, this addiction took over her life. She said her faith in Jesus was restored and could believe and see he refused to give up on her.
I got back in the car.
I asked if Rosie needed anything as I shifted out of park. She said she was thirsty and would love water or juice.
I said, “Alright, come with me. Let’s go.”
Rosie shook her head and said she was banned from entering.
I felt the heaviness of her circumstances and went back inside. Returning with water, juice, and a gift card in hand, I gave her the supplies along with my number and information about Teen Challenge – a faith-based treatment center. Rosie thanked me and said she had HIV and previously attempted to see a doctor for resources, medical treatment, and help with her addiction.
We said our goodbyes and parted ways.
I wonder how many people would have approached a woman in Rosie’s condition after she mistakenly got in their car.
I honestly have no idea how I found the strength and courage. What I did know was that God sent me there for that exact moment, and there was no way I could leave without telling her about the love of Jesus.
I want to encourage you to be open and sensitive to small moments and encounters like the one I had with Rosie.
It is easy to feel safe and comfortable in our circles, routines, churches, and communities. But what if we were intentionally seeking out people who are lost, broken, and in need of a savior? What if we tuned our internal radio to the frequency where God is always speaking, and listened intently for what he wanted to say to those around us?
Here is the reality: people are hurting, dying, suffering, and broken. There’s disease, Addiction, hopelessness, homelessness, shame, trauma, and disappointment.
My first encounter with Rosie made me believe I was at risk in her presence. After responding with curiosity to what the Holy Spirit was doing at that moment, how I saw her was astronomically different.
Here’s my question and challenge to you, dear reader: who are the “Rosies” around you? Do you see them as a threat? Or do you see them as the beautiful, messy children of God that they are?
Life is short. It would be tragic to know that we were freely given the greatest gift a person could ever receive, and never share it.