Monday, October 22, 2007
I thank you so very much for your kind, understanding and sympathetic comments to my last post. Each one has meant more than you know during this trying time.
Rather than attempting a new post(I hardly slept last night), I'll just include the following one, a post I wrote years ago, one which will tell you a little about my dad. How he was always willing to help people in need, convenient or not, in season or out...
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." ... Hebrews 13:2
I was 16. My family was gathered around the dinner table one rainy Wednesday night along with our pastor and his wife--at that time, my dad was the assistant pastor of our church. The phone rang toward the end of our meal, so my dad answered it to find that a woman was calling from a damp phone booth in a shopping center two blocks away. She sounded anxious as she told my dad she and her young daughter were traveling to go live with her (the mother's) father. She'd thought they'd reach his home by nightfall yet still they had miles to go-- she needed a place to stay overnight, and she had no money.
My dad asked her to hold for a minute, then he turned to all of us and told us this woman's story. Our pastor said, "Oh, you can call Brother ______ about it. I usually let him take care of things like that."
That sounded odd to me. Shouldn't we help this woman since she called us? (Living in the parsonage, we shared the church's phone number.) Wouldn't it take a long time to get her some help if she had to make another call and start all over with someone who lived farther from the shopping center than we did?
My dad must have thought that, too, because he told our pastor he would drive over to the shopping center and lead her back to our house. He turned back to the phone, relayed the message to the woman in the phone booth, and hung up. We'd finished dinner anyway and our pastor and his wife needed to walk up the hill to our church to prepare for the mid-week service. So they left, my dad left to guide the woman to our house, and my mom, sister and brother and I hurriedly cleared the table and changed the sheets on the double bed in my room upstairs which always doubled as the guest room.
We kids loved to have company. It didn't matter whether our guests were relatives, old friends, or the down-and-out folks my dad sometimes brought home from Life's harsh highways (one traveling teen even arrived with a huge doberman pinscher when I was 14). In fact, I loved caring for the down-and-outers best--I loved that we could provide a comfortable place for them, if just for one night. To help them, to encourage them, with no strings attached, well, it just made my heart feel as though it would explode from joy.
To shorten this story, the woman and her 7-year-old daughter arrived and we showed them my room upstairs where they'd be staying. They both appeared grateful, commented on my lime-green room and teen decor, then they settled-in while the rest of us walked downstairs. We'd all planned to go to the midweek service that night, but after some discussion, it was decided that I would remain at the house in case our guests needed anything (back then, we weren't as paranoid about strangers as we all are now). So the rest of my family walked up our backyard hill to the church and I settled down with my English Lit. homework in our living room.
Fifteen minutes passed then the woman and her daughter came down the stairs with their big suitcase. The mother said, with smiles, "My daughter really wants to go see her grandfather tonight instead of in the morning. So we're going to go now, but we do want to thank you so much for being willing to have us stay with you. We really appreciate it so much and please do tell your parents how grateful we are."
She gently shook my hand, picked up her suitcase and then both mother and daughter stepped out the front door.
I was surprised at this turn of events and I just stood near the door wondering if it would be ok with my parents that I let these guests get away so soon without convincing them to stay.
And then it hit me--after they'd left, I'd heard no car motor start up. Their car had been parked in front of our house, yet I'd seen no headlights. My heart began to pound as I stepped to the window, pulled back the curtain and saw nothing out on the dark, wet street.
To this day thirty years later, I still believe what I told my family when they stepped through our door that night after church-- that we had entertained angels unaware. And my story must have sounded convincing, because they all still believe it, too.
Each of us will never know.... we'll never really know until we reach heaven, perhaps, just how many angels crossed our path to test what we had learned and what we had become...
.. and yet if we cooperate with God in the little annoying trials of Every Day, we will always be willing and prepared for any angels who may call.