Wednesday, September 2, 2015

STOP-A Lesson in Listening

    A true story. 

     During the summer months our church women’s ministry suspended in-depth Bible study, instead meeting once a week for prayer, devotional time, and a two-mile walk through the neighborhood beside our church. We started as one group praying for neighborhood families but usually returned to the church in three groups—fast, slower and slowest.

     One evening I shared the slower spot with a young woman named Christina. As we entered the church parking lot, we spotted an old well-used pick-up truck—driver’s-side door open and no one in sight.

     When we stepped even with the passenger-side door, I heard a voice in my spirit as loud and clear as an air horn at a ballgame. “STOP!” I stopped, throwing my right arm across Christina as a mother does to protect her child and tiptoeing to peek through the passenger-side window. Grasping the steering wheel and leaning over the seat stood a gray-haired man in obvious distress.

     Christina ran to call 911, while I assured the gentleman help was on the way. I hoped to engage him enough to keep him from passing out. I asked his name. He struggled for air.


      “Art, would you mind if I pray for you?”


     I laid my right hand on his sweat-soaked back and began to pray. Art was dying. I could sense it. My prayer for help remains engraved in my memory.

      “Father, I don’t know Art, but you do. I don’t know what is happening with his body right now. I do know that it is bad. Lord, you know exactly what is going on with Art. Lord, I ask that you keep him safe until medical help arrives.”

     As I continued, I could feel a Holy Spirit infusion of power to pray urgently.

     “Lord, don’t you let him die on me standing here in this parking lot. Father I do not know Art’s spiritual condition or if he knows Jesus as his Lord and Savior. But I’m asking you right now that you give him one more opportunity to make a decision for Christ. Lord, please don’t let him die before he knows Jesus!”

     I know both God and Art heard that desperate prayer, and I heard a feeble breathy response. “Thank you.”

     I continued to talk, trying to calm myself as much as Art; reassuring him that an ambulance would arrive. Soon other ladies gathered to pray. The ambulance appeared, and I stepped out of the way. The driver, a childhood friend of Art’s sons, spoke with compassionate reassurance.

     As we stepped back to allow the medical team to work, Art’s heart stopped. We prayed. The team laid Art in the bed of his truck. I held my breath until Art breathed. Finally, they slid him into the ambulance, and the driver thanked us for calling 911. Art was in good hands.

     I remember whispering one more time as the flashing lights and sirens sped away, “Lord, don’t you let him die if he doesn’t know Jesus.”
    Art survived. I walked into his hospital room knowing he had never seen my face—only felt my hand and heard my voice.

     “Hello, Art.”

     “You are the angel that saved my life” he smiled.

     I knew he was wrong on two counts. I am certainly no angel, and I did not save his life. I stayed only a minute but asked if I could return when he was feeling better. 

     Two days later, I found him sitting in a chair. Once again, he called me his angel. We chatted, and I discovered his wife had been praying for Art’s salvation for many years. I asked if he wanted to accept Jesus Christ into his heart, and he said yes. We prayed, and I thanked God that he had answered the prayer I prayed standing in the middle of an asphalt parking lot with my hand on the sweat-drenched back of a dying man.

     Our pastor also visited Art and came away confident that Art had accepted Christ as Savior. I wept during the following Sunday worship service as pastor explained to the congregation what had transpired in Art’s life.

     That parking lot encounter reminded me of several things. God is real. He cares. He is present in the lives of His children. He speaks. It is my responsibility to pay attention. When I do, it can be life altering. 

     I will never forget how, on that hot summer evening, one word linked two lives for eternity. Stop!

© Joyce Powell

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