We have a Sunday morning routine: early morning church service, Sunday School, then a walk across the street to our favorite brunch spot. This morning after Sunday School I suggested to the children we try something different, skip our usual brunch and go somewhere else. Of all places, I had an inexplicable craving for Waffle House!
My husband was working, so we paged him to let him know our intended whereabouts in case he was able to breakaway and meet us.
As we entered the Waffle House a couple went in before us and took the last 4-top booth. I was completely annoyed because the only other open table was a 2-top, which they could have sat in rather than taking 'our' table. The children and I waited a long 10 minutes for another table to open up, then settled in for lunch just as Daddy was arriving.
As we were finishing our lunch I noticed an apparently homeless couple walking down the street just in front of the window we were seated in--it was KP! Last I heard from her (3 1/2 weeks ago) she was was back in jail facing a total of 7 drug-related felonies from two separate arrests. I knocked on the glass as she was walking by. She looked me in the eye, then quickly glanced away.
My husband and I debated the appropriate response. I wanted to run out after her. My loving, protective husband was (understandably) a bit leery of her sketchy-looking companion. KP & her friend paused at the corner of the restaurant, then started to walk away. I jumped up from the table, ran to the front door and called her name. She was at the far end of the parking lot. Her friend turned and acknowledged me, then slowly KP turned and made eye contact again.
As I walked toward her, she started taking steps in my direction. I asked her how she was doing, when she got out of jail, who bailed her out, where she was living. She did not look well. She looked haggard and tired--far older than her 18 years.
"Have you been using?" I asked.
"Please don't lie to me." I countered as I hugged her.
She said she had received my letter a few weeks ago in jail, but that she couldn't get a stamp to write back (yet she had a cell phone). She went on to tell me how all her friends are using (crack cocaine) and trying to get her to go back to her old haunts. She said she was trying to stay away, but finding it difficult to do.
After my experience with her, I was not sure how much of what she was telling me was true and how much was manipulation. I encouraged her to stand strong, reminded her that another arrest would be the end of the line for her, pleaded with her to be careful.
Then I felt the Holy Spirit take over--This is your moment. Be bold. Love her.
I hugged her again and with her companion standing 2 feet away said, "KP, I am praying for you. I am here when you are ready to get serious about getting out of bondage. This is not who you are. You do not have to live this life. You can be free. It is not by accident that we are here together this moment. I know God did this. He loves you and wants so much more for your life."
She softly said, "I know" through misty tears as she slowly moved out of my embrace.
I reminded her that she could always find me by contacting the children's home and she walked away.
I am not trying to be overly dramatic here...but there is absolutely no explanation for the love I have for that child but Christ. I am not normally this bold. Nor do I generally feel this drawn to people with her history. She is a mess: A 7-time suspected felon, crack addict, homeless young woman who almost certainly turns tricks to get her supply. By the world's standards, we have nothing in common. Standing in the Waffle House parking lot the outward contrast between the two of us was stark. Me in my suburban housewife Sunday best, she in her dirty, rumpled threads. Yet, because of the nature of the incredible God we serve we stood in a heartfelt embrace. I felt sincere, inexplicable love for this seemingly hopeless child. And in that moment I got a glimpse of the grace and mercy of God.
We are all, in our ways, addicts that return to our old haunts. We are harlots that trade the affection we should reserve only for God for cheap trinkets and short-term highs. Yet He leaves His seat to pursue us. In His pristine holiness He embraces us and whispers truth to us. He loves us in spite of ourselves.
I don't know what happens next for KP, I pray that she'll embrace the gift that was given to her on that cross 2000 years ago, but the lesson God taught me today--the small taste of
His love for the lost...I pray I will never, EVER forget that.
And as for the couple who greedily took 'our' 4-top. If we had been sitting there, we would have never seen KP. God is Sovereign and at work everywhere. To Him be the Glory!