One night this past week my friend Emily and I decided to join our friend Sarah for a run in the park instead of running in the neighborhood. We don't usually run with Sarah. She is fast. We are not. It was an instant decision, no planning, just hopped in the car and headed there instead of stepping out out in the neighborhood, as we usually do.
The state park is right across from my house and has a nice trail around a large pond. There is one way in and one way out. It is a forest of trees and has a lot of access roads to the pond with picnic areas and a few playgrounds tucked away throughout the park. It is a great park but not really a place a woman wants to go run or walk alone, though I have been guilty of it. Sarah ran off from us right as we started while carrying her mace. Emily and I just always trust our loud mouths and the power of 2 will scare off any attackers. I must say this park is safe and I have never heard of anyone being attacked, abducted or killed. It is just a woman thing to worry and be on alert.
As Emily and I finished our run and headed back to her truck we heard a knock on her drivers side door. It was an older middle-aged woman who was red in the face and drenched in sweat. She had on jeans and a striped shirt, she had her phone and car keys in her hand and was out of breath. Emily rolled down her window and the woman said "I am so sorry to bother you, I am not crazy and I am not going to hurt you. I have been lost for 2 hours and I cannot find my car." Emily is a nurse and noticed that the woman was surely dehydrated and therefore she was becoming disoriented.
We asked her to get in the backseat and get some air and drink some water. She was so modest and embarrassed, but she did it. She was so helpless and I almost cried. I thought about it being my mother, mother in love, aunt, etc. She was from Portland and was in town visiting her mother in an area nursing home to celebrate her 90th birthday. The woman grew up in Jonesboro but she said she hasn't been back in years and it looks nothing like it used to. She was very disoriented.
Knowing the park has one way in and one way out, she told us she came in a back entrance. Emily and I looked at each other (we have the same personality. It is scary at times) and knew we had an issue on our hands. The lady kept apologizing and told us how bad she felt about bothering us. She told us she kept trying to ask people for help but she was scared because she didn't want anyone to think she was crazy and she didn't want to ask a man. She said she spotted us and knew we would help her.
We proceeded to take her to the old entrance to the park. My neighbor had once told us that the park used to have an entrance in the back in the 1960's and 1970's. I thought maybe she tried to come in back there and just parked on the road since it is not an entrance anymore. As we approached the old entrance we realized her car was not there. She was mortified and about to cry. She had no idea where she was or where her car was. The park is huge but only has about 7 access roads, so we knew we would find it, but it was getting dark. The lady was getting nervous.
She told us she was in a rental car and had driven it from Little Rock that afternoon after flying in from Portland. She was tired. She thought maybe a little walk in the old park would be a nice way to end her day. She said she didn't remember the park being this massive when she was growing up. It overwhelmed her and she was lost very quickly, she said.
We told her we were going to go back in the main entrance to the park and find her car and not to be scared. As we approached the main entrance...which is the one we had just exited with her...one way in and one way out of the park...she says "This is it! This is the way I came in." Again, Emily and I look at each other. As we approached the main parking lot, which is where we were parked in the beginning of this encounter, she says "THAT IS IT! That is my rental car!!". This sweet, tired, sweaty, distraught, confused woman was parked right next to Emily's car when all this started!!! The woman had no idea we were right back to where we started. It was unreal. She was so lost, even when she was found!
Emily and I did not say a word because we did not want to make her feel any worse than she already did. It was so sad. She had tears in her eyes and told us we were angels from heaven. She said that we will never know how we blessed her. She was so scared because it was getting dark and she had no clue where she was. She quickly got in her rental car and we drove away.
Emily and I are never known to be speechless, but we drove back across the street to my house in awe. No words could explain what we had encountered. I went in the house and bathed Henry, went about my laundry routine, visited with Randall and got in bed to read my Journey. Emily and I read Journey daily devotionals for women. We get them for free at our church. We hold each other accountable to it. As I read the verse for the day. I got chills and texted her. She texted me back with the same response.
"And the king will answer them, 'I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me'" Matthew 25:40
We have never run in the park together and had no intention of going there. Sarah roped us in to going and she even drove her own car. We had no reason to be there. God put us there for that woman. He knew she was searching and scared and we were 2 blocks away. He used Sarah to prompt us to go. He put us there to walk into her. Emily said it was a test. I agree. I had already worked out 2 times that day and a 3rd workout on a trail was not on my tired and achy agenda. God knew we needed to be a blessing and to be blessed. I hope he finds me worthy to use me like that again. It was such a joy! I do hope that sweet woman made it to her destination and that her mother had a wonderful birthday celebration.