Ever received one of those automobile ads with the “try the key to see if it’s a winner” gimmicks attached? Well, my husband loves an adventure (and we needed to go a couple places in the next town over, anyway), so on the last day before the deadline, we drove the 25 miles to try the key and see if we’d won. Hey- we could at least win a gas grill, a four-wheeler, or a lottery ticket worth up to $18,000, if we didn’t win the new truck. That key was the bait to get us into their dealership, and hopefully sell us a new vehicle (which we had no intention of buying at present).
We both groaned, “Oh, my goodness, look at those sales people about to swarm us like a flock of vultures!” as we pulled into the crowded parking lot.
A nicely dressed lady approached our vehicle, asking if we were here “for the promotion” as my husband rolled down the window. She immediately saw the brochure (with the key attached) in between our seats, and answered her own question: “Oh, you ARE here for the promotion!” We were both mumbling our regrets as we got out of our vehicle to follow her in.
The sales lady, whom I’ll call ‘Rhonda’, proceeded to ask how old our vehicles were, how much we owed on them, and to sing the praises of their newest vehicles for sale. “Can’t you just see yourself in a new truck?” Almost before my husband could answer, I interjected, “Oh, I’m sure that would be nice, but my husband’s truck is just a ‘work truck’. It’s paid off, and we don’t need another vehicle payment right now.” I gave her a similar answer when she tried to talk me into a new family vehicle.
Recognizing that we’d planted our feet firmly about not purchasing anything, she called her supervisor to “visit with us” once more, before she’d check to see if we had a “winning key number” for a prize. We braced ourselves for the high-pressure sales pitch. We waited — and talked — for twenty minutes, but the supervisor never came. It took much longer than we’d planned, and we had other errands to run. However, when our conversation turned to our children and the struggles she’d had as a single mom, my husband and I quickly realized something:
It was God Who sent us to this woman — not a gimmick or an earthly prize.
Rhonda shared that her son was an NFL football player, and her two daughters were in college on scholarships. She said that God helped her, and that she had wonderful and supportive parents. She’d also helped raise five other children over the years, who needed a safe place to stay when things were bad in their own homes. Rhonda was active in church, and raised her children to work hard, finish their education, love and obey God, and respect authority. She was certainly doing an exemplary job, and my husband and I commended her efforts and successes.
Her often humorous comments were soon interjected with tears of frustration. Walls came down as Rhonda began to reveal serious stressors, while we continued to wait for her supervisor. This brave mom had taken in a twelve-year-old girl three months ago, who was now “driving her crazy”. She felt at the end of her rope, and was about to give her back to her previous family. *Dana (*not her real name) had been living with bed bugs, no electricity or water, and abusive, alcoholic adults.
A fatherless child with a mom in jail had finally found a safe and loving family. But her constant biting of the hands that fed her was breaking the last thread of patience of the best mother-figure she’d ever had.
Dana’s biological mom was to be released from jail in December. “I can’t WAIT until December!” Rhonda admitted. She’d all but given up on Dana and the rebellious and lazy attitude at home, topped with constant issues at school concerning her behavior and lack of drive. Rhonda confessed to my husband and I that she’d often threatened to send Dana back, in an exasperated last-ditch effort to convince her to “do right”. Twelve years of bad examples couldn’t be undone in three months, as badly as Rhonda wanted it.
Hank and I both told Rhonda that it was obvious that God had sent Dana to live with Rhonda and her family, for whatever period of time that may be. Therefore, He would give Rhonda grace and wisdom for the task. Rhonda stood up, walked over to me and hugged me, thanking us both for encouraging her.
“May I ask you a question?” Rhonda said, lowering her voice.
“Do you think it’s wrong for me to say, ‘I can’t wait until December, when Dana will be gone’? Because I feel so guilty when I say it.”
My honest response was this: “It’s human for you to feel that way. Not wrong – just human, after all you’ve gone through. This season of your life may only be for three months, or six months, or six years. But I see that girl in six years –CHANGED forever, because of the impact you’re having upon her right now. God will give you grace for whatever He calls you to do. Just like when we were considering adopting our youngest two children, we had to consider the alternatives. What would happen to them if we said ‘no’? Rhonda, you have to ask yourself the same question. That’s what I believe.”
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Rhonda wiped away more tears after that. “That’s a confirmation of what God has already been telling me! I just really needed to hear it from someone else. I KNOW God sent you both here to talk to me today.”
After one more hug and a smile of renewed hope, Rhonda took us to get our prize, admitting that obviously we weren’t supposed to talk to her supervisor that day– we were meant to talk to her. Well, big surprise — our “key number” garnered us a lottery ticket. Neither my husband nor I have ever purchased a lottery ticket in our lives, so we didn’t even know how to scratch it off!
We didn’t win anything with that ticket — not even the $3 prize. But we certainly won the prize that our Heavenly Father had designed for us (and Rhonda) that day. God shared a ray of hope, impetus to persevere, encouragement for a weary soul — that will hopefully contribute to another life saved, redeemed by His grace and patient love.