When the Spirit intervenes ...

Sally Oakes's picture

The parking deck at Emory University Hospital can be pretty confusing because there are so many sections to it. Still, I’m familiar enough with it that I’ve never had much trouble.

Wouldn’t you know, just at a time I had to hurry to get back to get my daughter from our carpool, I lost my car.

I went up and down a couple of sections looking for it, but with the time ticking away, I started to get nervous. I said to a woman who was on the way to her car, “I can’t believe I did this.” She just responded, “Oh, I’ve done that before! Just go to the box over there and page security. They’ll come get you.” So, I did what she suggested.

Time ticked on as security took awhile to reach me. I wandered a bit through the sections just to make sure but I didn’t want to get too far away from the box in case they came and I wasn’t there. By this time I knew I wasn’t going to be home in time.

When the security golf cart reached me, I asked, with a smile on my face, “Are you my rescuer?” I got in the cart and sat next to one of the grouchiest women I’d ever known. She complained about “some people.” I decided to make a joke out of it, “Yeah; like the flakes who forget where they park.” As she drove me around the deck, I hung on for dear life; she took the corners fast and hard. I might have fallen out if it weren’t for the plastic covering.

The story came out in bits and pieces, but it seems she was feeling overworked and underappreciated at work. She was retiring early and they were drawing up the paperwork and she was looking forward to leaving this job.

We snaked all the way down to the bottom (I was on the F, or sixth, level) and back to my car. With the quick turns, all the way down and then back up, adding to it the exhaust fumes in the garage, I was starting to get a little dizzy. She’d say again, “Oh, please pray for me.”

We reached my car and she exclaimed how beautiful the paint job was. Obviously she hasn’t seen my peeling hood, but I thanked her for the rescue and told her congratulations and to enjoy her retirement, with no responsibilities. She said, “Thank you. I will. I’m going to stay here to make sure your car starts.” As I walked to my car, she said, “Just do me a favor; pray for me.”

So, even though “pray for me” usually means for the pray-er to pray for the pray-ee at home, and even though I was now late enough that my daughter’s carpool was arriving at my house, I walked over to her and said, “Let me pray for you right now.” I asked her name and I prayed a short prayer for her, mostly guessing as to what was really going on. I knew I didn’t know the whole story other than what came out during our dizzying jet through the parking deck. I doubt I prayed but a minute, but when we came out of prayer, tears were flowing down her cheeks.

She asked me, “Do you ever wake up wondering why God woke you up for the day? Do you ever feel like you have no reason to live? Sometimes I have no reason to live.”

I knew she’d need deeper counseling than what I could offer through the plastic sheet of a golf cart, but I did what I could to encourage her. I gave her one of my cards and told her she could call my cell phone if she needed and I encouraged her to get counseling and that if she’d call me, I could refer her to someone. She kissed the card and said, “Can I call you for prayer?”

I said, “Yes.” Right now, I’m praying that she calls.

While I think it was my own absentmindedness that made me forget where I parked my car, I also know that “ ... the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:26 ff)

We have been called by God, justified by his grace, says Paul. When one’s prayer is a sigh too deep for words, the Spirit has a way to intervene. He puts us together with people. As the carpool mom said when I finally arrived at her house to pick up my daughter, “It’s (following Christ) is all about relationships.”

How true.

Sally Oakes is pastor of Bethany United Methodist Church, 607 Rivers Road, Fayetteville, GA 30214. Phone: 770-964-6999 or 770-964-6992, or e-mail bethanymnc@bellsouth.net.

login to post comments | Sally Oakes's blog