I had a newspaper route for ten years and I encountered all kinds of people deep into the night. A lot of them became friends. I looked forward to seeing them on a regular basis, I guess largely because I knew they looked forward to my arrival; and that was the main reason why I enjoyed my job. I was always welcome and actually ‘sought after’. Most everyone anxiously anticipated my arrival; the store clerks were happy because the customers would be happy, and the customers were happy to finally get their daily paper, even if it was late, at least most of them were. I had over thirty store accounts and boxes to reach and even if I didn’t leave the dock before 3, I still was finished with my route by 5am. I’m laying the groundwork for all the reasons why I was in a hurry, not just a hurry ‒ a BIG hurry. And even though I used my radar detector religiously, I still have copies of the speeding tickets to prove it!
But you know what they say about schedules being made to be broken. Even though I had my blinders on and kept my focus on my job; there are people who become stranded and sometimes one has to take into consideration the gravity of a need. I never said, “No.” to anyone who asked me for a ride. Even if they had to hang with me for the rest of my route before I could drop them off. Even that didn’t happen too often because my route covered the furthest south and the furthest east of Rockford and began and ended downtown. For a while, I had two routes that also stretched out to the farthest west and north! So I really had little reason to refuse someone a ride if it was truly needed. I met a lot of interesting people that way; and I always made sure they knew that God was the one who saw their need and who put me there just at the right time and that, as it was usually the case, if I had left the dock five minutes earlier or five minutes later, we would have missed each other.
One winter we had a lot of snow, and one particular night, it was piling up all around me. I had to fill a box at a motel on 11th Street and the wind sweeping down the street from the north was so cold I could barely stand to be out of my van for the thirty seconds it took me to insert the key and fill the box. The sidewalks were impassable, and the snow plows were having difficulty keeping the streets cleared so that even with tall boots, a person would have trouble finding a suitable pathway.
I was genuinely surprised to see her emerge from the lobby as I was filling the newspaper box. She was scantily clad in high heels and a designer jacket. She leaned into the wind and trudged out into the street. I was still trying to warm my hands up in front of the heater vent in my van as I passed her by. I was glad that my van was high enough off the ground to glide over the piles of snow that were steadily getting deeper between the tire tracks in the street. To be able to make a new path into the parking lots, I did a lot of coasting without my brakes. I filled the box at Burger King in this manner even though getting in and out of the parking lot took extra time because I always went all the way around the building and came out the other side and I had to make my own path through the snow. She walked up to my van and asked as clearly as she could with frozen lips, “Do you ever give people rides?”
I said, “Yes, I do give people rides.” She was very glad, and so was I because I couldn’t imagine anyone walking in that cold. And you know, sometimes there are appointments in life and I knew we had encountered one because I only had two more boxes to do and the second one was exactly two houses away from where she lived!
I pulled in to do the first box and when I got back in the van she said, “I can tell by the music playing on your radio that you’re a Christian.”
Then she asked, “Will you pray for me?”
I went past the last box because I had to turn around anyway and then she said, “You can let me off here.”
I said, “Okay, what do you want to pray about?”
She said, “I want God to help me make a decision to do something I know I’ve needed to do for a long time. I need to change my life.”
I said, “God will not only do that for you, but He will make it look easy. Amen.” God dropped that special faith down into my spirit and I had perfect faith to believe that He would do it. Hallelujah! Nothing was ever said about who she was, or what she did indeed want God to do for her, but to me, she was the ‘Prostitute Who Came in From the Cold’, and shortly after that I told my pastor about my idea for the book series, number two of which is in the kiln of the fire of the everlasting love of God Almighty, Savior of all mankind and especially anyone who will humble themselves and call upon His name. And JESUS is His name. Hallelujah!
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