The car thermometer read 38 degrees as I pulled into the driveway. Two girls ran out. Neither wore a coat, but what caught my eye was the youngest one’s bare feet and runny nose.
“Where are your shoes?” I asked.
“I couldn’t find them,” she replied.
Several weeks ago I noticed an empty place in a pew two rows behind me. An older couple, out of town for the weekend, typically sits there with their “kids”—children they pick up from various homes every Sunday morning. I didn’t know the little ones; but seeing the empty spot triggered a thought. There is no reason for those children to miss church when Mr. & Mrs. Evans are gone. I can pick them up just as easily.
The next Sunday I told Mrs. Evans I would gladly transport her “kids” the next time she was out of town. I didn’t have to wait long. She called a few days later, “My husband and I will be gone next weekend. Were you serious about getting the kids?”
“Definitely,” I answered.
That’s how I ended up sitting in my van waiting for the girl with no shoes to hop in. She found a seat and I handed her a tissue. By this point my van was full. The three older children I picked up first helped these newer ones get buckled as we got acquainted. I learned the youngest one’s name was Janelle. I wondered why I hadn’t bothered to get to know these children before. Could it be I was so wrapped up in my own world I hadn’t been awake to what was around me?
I dropped the children off at the proper Sunday school classes and proceeded to my own. I smiled. I had poked my head out of my comfortable world and helped others. No, it wasn’t a big deal. It had cost little. But God used this simple act to remind me I was His vessel to reach a lost world, and it felt good.
After Sunday school, I gathered the children and walked to the sanctuary. Janelle sat next to me drawing carrots and pink crosses. When I asked about one sketch, she pointed to the chandelier hanging above her head and said, “It’s that.” She sang her ABC’s and asked about the angel in a book she was looking through. I don’t know why, but I was surprised by her intelligence. Her questions and drawings indicated a depth I didn’t think was there. I put my arm around her.
The title of the sermon flashed on the screen: Are You Awake? As my husband, the pastor, joked that he was not testing our alertness, Janelle put her fingers in her mouth and leaned into me. A few minutes later, she scooted down, laid her head in my lap, and closed her eyes. As I watched this precious child sleep, I thought about how I would have missed out on this moment had I not been awake – awake to God’s presence and aware of my surroundings.
Are you awake? When was the last time God used your surroundings to nudge you?
*This blog post first appeared on Lisa Cowman’s blogsite Real Life Faith .