When God Shows Up in the Grocery Store Parking Lot
I saw her, but I didn’t really see her. I was loading my groceries into the back of my car, hurrying. It was almost dinner time and I knew my boys would be hungry. She was standing next to the grocery cart corral in the parking lot, near my car. I could see that she was tying her grocery bags together, taking her time. Something was different. Don’t people usually stuff their bags quickly into their car? But here she was, still at the corral, tying bags.
I put my cart in the corral and heard it. “Ask her if she needs help.”
A thought in my mind that I hadn’t thought. I dismissed it, in a hurry. My hungry boys needed food. But as I opened my car door, climbed into my seat, I heard it again. “Ask her if she needs help.”
I washed my hands with sanitizer. I literally thought, I could ignore that thought. But I knew I hadn’t thought it. I think maybe she’s just waiting for a ride. I’m sure she’s fine. All I have to do is ask if she’s ok. Asking isn’t really committing to help, is it?
I get back out of my car. “Ma’am, do you need any help?”
“No, I’m just walking.” I pause. That was why she was tying bags together. She was going to slip them all over her arms. Then I note, she made a point to tell me she was walking. She didn’t just say no.
I ask, “You’re walking with all your groceries?”
Knowing there aren’t many neighborhoods close by, I ask, “Where are you walking to?”
She told me, and I recognized it would be a 20-25 minute walk, maybe more weighed down with groceries. On a very hot, humid Sunday evening.
I silently talk with God. Lord, we’re in a pandemic. But you told me to ask if she needs help. So I’m assuming you have all of this in your hands.
“Can I give you a ride?”
An immediate yes, ma’am.
Together, we load her groceries into my backseat, since mine are in the back of my car and it could be tricky to discern her bags from my own. She quickly climbs over her groceries into the back seat before I can even offer her the front seat. I tell her she’s welcome to take the front, and she says no. I see such humility in her.
I clarify the route to take, and as we’re driving, I tell her, “This might sounds strange, but I think God wanted me to ask if you need help.” She needed to know that God orchestrated this for her. She replied that it didn’t sound strange at all, and that’s what she’s been trying to teach her daughter — how real God is.
As we’re driving, she tells me she just moved here from Mississippi with her 22-year-old daughter, who needs a heart transplant, and the only hospital in the country that does the surgery she needs is right here.
I’m stunned. She doesn’t have a car. Her daughter is waiting for heart transplant. How does that work? I ask her daughter’s name and tell her I will pray for her.
We arrive at her apartment and I get out to help with getting the groceries up the stairs to her door. She refuses, so I help her unload them from the car. As she calls her daughter for help, I ask again. I feel unsettled. I’m listening to hear something else, but I’m not sensing any other divine nudges. Is that it, God? Am I missing anything?
I say goodbye, promising to pray. She tells me thank you and to have a blessed day. As I drive away, I say her daughter’s name, and pray for her.
As I replay the events in my mind, at first, I focused on “my” part — the part where I’d heard Him tell me to ask her if she needed help. The part where I asked, I drove, I prayed. I felt a bit of satisfaction. But then I realize I didn't actually, really, nail this whole thing. I'd gotten into my car and had to get back out to talk with her in the first place. But what I was most humbled by? I didn’t ask HER name, nor did I offer mine. I’d been nervous. It’s not every day that I give a stranger a ride. What if she asked me for money or for more help? And there’s this pandemic…
I apologized to God for not asking her name, and God gently told me, this wasn’t about me. He didn’t do this for me. He did this for her. He said, “I know her name.”
God wanted her to know He sees her.
He wanted her to know that He will provide for her.
This sweet, slight woman who was willing to carry all of her groceries home for her daughter. Who was willing to move from Mississippi to Ohio for her daughter. Who was trying to teach her daughter about faith and God. Who was sacrificing everything.
He knows her name.
He named her His daughter.
And He gave her a ride home on a very hot Sunday evening.