Larry's Divine Opportunity
Larry, a sixty-five-year-old retiree, shared the following divine opportunity that occurred about thirty years prior to the time of the interview. This particular divine opportunity was so powerful that it still stands out in his mind as a wonderful testimony of how God uses him to minister to others. This is a great example of how God leads us and guides us through spiritual promptings. He writes:
In 1983, I was living and working in Memphis, Tennessee. This particular day, I was driving home from work along highway 240 on the south side of Memphis. Along the drive, I saw a car pulled over on the side of the highway, pointed in the direction of my travel, with someone standing off to the side of the car. The moment I saw this person I had this impulse to pull over and help. Before I could even weigh my options, I had another strong feeling that I needed to pull over. In that moment, when I spotted the car off the side of the highway, I felt like I was sensing God’s voice and instruction. It wasn’t a voice out of heaven or even an audible voice for that matter—it wasn’t anything like that. In fact, I’ve never really had that. It was more of an internal presence of God. It was as if I was hearing God’s voice in my spirit; it’s like I had to get over, I had to pull off and help. I’ve driven by stranded cars before, but I didn’t feel this way. I hadn’t even had time to identify that it was a woman or anything else about the situation itself that would have compelled me. It was outside myself and it was outside the situation, that this compelling force caused me to know that I needed to stop.
I pulled over on the shoulder about a hundred yards behind the car and coasted up behind it. And there I found this young female, in her mid-twenties, standing beside her car, which had a flat tire on the right rear side. She was just standing there gazing off into the distance, like she was checked out. I approached her and asked her if she needed help. She just turned and looked at me with a dazed look on her face. And then out of nowhere she just rushed into my arms and broke down crying, sobbing crying, and opening up about her life circumstances and all that was going on.
She told me that she had just come from St. Jude’s Hospital where her two-year-old son was being treated for leukemia, and that she was staying with her parents because her husband had recently walked out on her and their ill child. In this moment, it was like she was just so overwhelmed by life and so flooded with emotion that she just couldn’t keep it together any longer. It didn’t seem to matter at all that I was a complete stranger. She was just so vulnerable and so distraught about her young two-year-old son having to battle leukemia and what she was to do now as a single parent.
However, even though I was a stranger, it all began to make perfect sense. You see, I had lost my first wife about eight and a half years earlier to leukemia right there in Memphis, and at the time of this opportunity I also had a two-year-old son with my second wife. So this was an opportunity God had orchestrated for me to open up and share with her about my experience and share with her a level of understanding and empathy that no one else along that stretch of highway could have. It was a God thing. I don’t recall a lot of what I said—it’s like it came in and went out, a lot like a gift of the Spirit. It’s not necessarily something I thought about and said. It just flowed. I felt an anointing or empowerment as I was talking with her. And I felt like she was receiving what she needed through what I said. Her breaking down and crying was perhaps a release from the kind of the detached frustration, almost like she didn’t know what to do or had even given up.
After holding her, talking with her, and changing her tire, I asked if I could pray for her. Before I prayed, however, I asked her for the name of her son, and as soon as I asked I immediately knew what she was going to say. Sure enough, she said that her son’s name was Aaron, which was the same name as my two-year-old son. The overlap of our stories was amazing, with our sons having the same name and being the same age, and with her son being in a similar health situation as my first wife, with leukemia. I never asked for her name, I just held her while she cried. And then I prayed with her. I wished her God’s help and God’s speed, and she drove off down the road.
When I got back in my car and started down the road, I was weeping and emotional. It took me back to the things that had happened in my life and some of the ways that God helped me and ministered to me during my wife’s time with leukemia. I felt His presence at different times during my wife’s illness, so there was a tumbling of memories that it brought about. But, ultimately, this built confidence in my ability to recognize the voice of God. I drove away with a greater awareness and obedience to the gentle nudges from God. And instead of just blowing it off or thinking, “Oh, that’s just me,” I became more trusting of hearing God and being submissive to what He wants me to do.