he schoolhouse clock in our Michigan home struck the half-hour chime. I knew I had mere minutes to finish my final preparations for our departure for a mini-mission trip to South America. Our congenial neighbor, Dave, drove into our carport promptly at 4:45 a.m. As I opened the door, he stood grinning as if it were 4:45 p.m.!
“You all ready to go?” he asked. “The roads are real slippery. We need to get a good start.”
Ready indeed! I thought. What I really wanted was a long, long sleep.
Knowing we would be away from our offices for a length of time, I had been doing double duty by burning the midnight oil, and then some!
The men loaded the boxes and suitcases we intended to take to Venezuela and Colombia into Dave’s ample Suburban as I went over my mental checklist. Did I leave anything out? I spied a small Bible on the dresser. I dropped it into my purse. My larger Bible was in my carry-on luggage.
Our plane ran late from South Bend, Indiana, to Dayton, Ohio, and we immediately boarded for Miami. More than two and a half hours of blissful sleep, I thought.
Grabbing a pillow and blanket, we excused ourselves and climbed over the young man in the aisle seat. Wrapping up in my blanket and adjusting the pillow behind my head, I was ready to pursue my longed-for nap.
Greet the young man on your right. I sensed the thought come from above.
But I’m tired, Lord, I argued.
Greet the young man on your right! This time the Voice seemed more persistent.
That would be the congenial thing to do, I thought, then I’ll sleep.
“Are you going to Puerto Rico?” I heard myself ask.
“Why, yes, but how did you know?” his voice held disbelief.
Without telling him I’d been there on a mission trip, I asked, “To San Juan, or Mayaguez?” My husband, Jim, always said I should have been a Philadelphia lawyer.
Since this flight deplaned in Miami, he couldn’t believe the questions I asked him.
Looking at me in a most astonishing way, he said, “Mayaguez.” Then, “Who are you, anyway, a psychic or something?”
Assuring him I was not a psychic, he became relieved. I heard him faintly say, “God works in mysterious ways.”
Strange, I thought. I wonder why he said that?
Sleep suddenly had no appeal. I sensed that God chose to have this young man in the seat next to me for a definite reason, and He had prompted me to ask those questions to gain his confidence.
His story poured out.
Ready to Begin Again
Edgar* graduated as an electrical engineer and worked for the government as a civil service employee. He told me he should have been in Utah for a very important meeting, but instead he was on his way to Mayaguez in the hope of resurrecting his broken marriage and home. His wife, Lucinda, knew nothing of his coming. Their communication had broken down. He agonized over the possibility of her rejecting his offer to reconcile their marriage. He wondered if she would even speak to him when he showed up unannounced on her doorstep. And what about his beloved daughter, Sonia? Would he ever have his little 8-year-old back with him again?
“It’s all my fault,” he told me. “I should never have let her go. I thought I was in love with another woman and Lucinda left me. Now I realize that she’s the one I truly love. I’ll do anything to get her back. I’ll give up my good job in the States, if need be. I even brought my resume with me if she wants me to work in Puerto Rico.”
As I heard Edgar’s heartfelt anguish, I remembered my little Bible. I took it out of my purse and turned to Psalm 51:10 (KJV). As I read, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me,” I saw tears trickle down his cheeks and knew that a responsive chord had been touched.
Guilt was eating Edgar up, and he needed to know that God loved him. He saw that God could clean up his life, but what about Lucinda? Would she see that he had changed?
“All night long I couldn’t sleep,” he admitted. “But I didn’t see lightning or anything to tell me that everything was going to be all right.”
Dinner was served, but the sharing didn’t stop. Edgar continued to tell me more about his life.
What Do You Think?
1. Recall a time when God used you to minister to someone who needed a sympathetic ear. What were some of the circumstances that surrounded that event?
2. What are the essential qualifications God looks for in arranging these providential exchanges?
3. What spiritual disciplines do you practice to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit every day?
4. Is there a fundamental impression you want to leave with those with whom you discuss spiritual things? What is it?
“You see, I once was very close to the Lord. I was raised a Catholic, but before I married I joined a Pentecostal group. I even held street meetings and went to prisons and preached from the Bible. I left all that and began living a totally different life. Then I became involved with this other woman. I haven’t read the Bible in a long time. I do miss the Christ way of life. I think I would like to get back into street preaching again.”
Suddenly I realized why I picked up the Bible before we left.
“Would you like to have this little Bible?” I asked, placing it in his hands.
“Oh, yes, I surely would,” he replied. I sensed a deep longing on his part to begin reading the Bible again. I then took it back and wrote our name, address, and some Bible texts I thought would be a blessing to him on the
All too quickly the flight attendant told us to begin preparations for landing. Where could those two and a half hours have gone? I wondered. I wasn’t the least bit tired!
I asked Edgar when he would be returning to the United States.
“December 15,” he said.
In checking our schedules we realized we were on the same return flight to Dayton. We made an appointment to meet together at the gate. We told him we would be praying that Lucinda and Sonia would be with him.
Thanking me again and again for his Bible and assuring me he would read it, he placed it in his bag and we all departed.
Did It Work?
The two weeks flew by. We arrived in Miami from Caracas on schedule with one thought uppermost in our minds: would we meet Edgar, Lucinda, and Sonia?
Imagine my disappointment when neither Edgar nor his family showed up. Maybe he had found a job in Mayaguez.
Home at last I scanned our mail. My eyes caught some unfamiliar writing. I tore open the envelope. What I saw made my heart sing. Praise the Lord! Our prayers had been answered. It was a Christmas card from the Martinez family postmarked from Dayton several days before. It said, “Greetings: Edgar, Lucinda, and Sonia!”
Edgar’s words rang in my ears. “God works in mysterious ways.” What if I had not listened to His voice and had chosen to sleep instead of sharing His love? God had worked in a mysterious way in my life as well as Edgar’s and Lucinda’s.
*Edgar, Lucinda, and Sonia are pseudonyms.
Dorothy J. Davidson passed away earlier this month. She and her husband, James, lived in Avon Park, Florida, after living many years in Berrien Springs, Michigan. This article was published November 26, 2009.