“Hi, can you come get me? I just got attacked. I’m so scared. I called the police but nobody is coming. I’m sorry, I didn’t know who else to call.”
I barely made out the words between her sobs. I could hear the shock in her voice and it pained me to ask as many clarifying questions as I did to make sure her story was valid, but crafty manipulation is bred into the genetic makeup of her line of work–the strip club industry.
Our paths crossed almost a month earlier on a sunny Thursday afternoon, right in my apartment complex. I had noticed her out by the pool listening to music as I got work done inside and felt a pull to go talk to her. I knew that pull too well…it was God. “Go talk to her, Sang.”
“Eh. I don’t want to, God. I’m getting work done on my computer. I don’t know her; that’d be weird.” Back to my screen, I went.
Hours passed. I looked up and she was still out there!
“Are you gonna go talk to her yet, Sang?”
“Uhhh,” My heart pounded. “Nah, I’m being productive here on my computer, God. Not today.”
As if on cue, my roommate’s dog moseyed her way over to the door. “Okay, God,” I laughed. “I’m gonna go out there to walk the dog and if my path happens to cross with the girl out there, then I’ll talk to her.”
I went outside and the girl was at the opposite corner from the exit, so I quickly headed out with the dog. Phew! Our paths didn’t cross! I’m off the hook, right?
Wrong. It was all I could think about as I walked the dog. “Why didn’t you go talk to her, Sang? She was right there!” “Okay,” I reasoned with God (ha, who do I think I am?), “if she’s still out there when I return, please let our paths cross and I’ll go talk to her.”
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” – Jesus (John 14:15)
Sure enough, she was not only still outside when I returned, she was right by the entrance where I walked in! “Okay, God. Here goes.”
“Hi,” I introduced myself. “Are you not working today?”
“Hi,” she shook my hand. “No, I’m not.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m an entertainer,” she smiled.
I paused. “What do you mean?”
“You know, like, at the club.”
“Oh, like a dancer?”
“Yea,” she smirked. What?? C’mon, God. Who meets strippers in their backyard?
She ended up sharing her whole life story with me over the course of an hour. What?! The tears flowed out of her eyes as she shared parts of her story she said she had not shared with another soul in over a year. My heart broke for her. There was an underlying sadness in her eyes. “I love her,” Jesus whispered. “Tell her that.” I did. She later explained that something inside of her told her she could let her guard down and trust me. Thanks, God!
I knew that my life had entered another realm when I drove home after dropping her off “at work” a week later. Ha! Is this real life? I just dropped a stripper off at a strip club. What?!
A few weeks later, I received that phone call. “Hi, can you come get me? I just got attacked. I’m so scared. I called the police but nobody is coming. I’m sorry, I didn’t know who else to call.”
After a couple of clarifying questions, I decided to go get her. Come with me, Jesus. Perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
My coworker and I pulled up to find her talking to two policemen. Well, at least we knew her story was valid! We were told to stay in our car so we sat put and prayed for her as we waited…for 45 minutes. Who knew police reports took so long to file? We had to leave for another meeting so I walked over to her and hugged her. I could see some faint bruises on her cheek. She said she had another friend who could come get her so we felt better about leaving.
On our way home, part of me felt sad that we couldn’t help her out the way I thought we could, but then God reminded me that our very presence there probably meant more to her than any ride home would.
We practiced the ministry of presence.
The unrelenting love, care, compassion, and faithfulness of God was expressed through our very act of showing up and sticking around for a bit. To show her that she was not alone, even in the midst of a very scary and lonely situation. This is our God! He does not leave us nor forsake us. He does not abandon us to the grave. He shows up and proves that His love for us is unconditional and never-failing. Emmanuel–God with us. We are never alone!
She later thanked me for being there for her and said that it meant the most to her to see us in the corner of that lot waiting for her, because she really did feel so alone. I felt honored. This is what following Jesus is all about…being His representatives here on earth. This is where true joy comes from–obeying what He tells us to do. Like any good parent, God only tells us to do things that He knows will be for our ultimate good, and what a bonus that it also brings about such joy!
When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! -Jesus (John 15:10-11)
What a gift to play a small part in this girl’s story that day, and to think that I would’ve missed out on all of it had I not obeyed God’s nudge to go talk to her that sunny Thursday afternoon. What would the world look like if more of us were aware of and obeyed God’s nudges throughout our days? The resulting joy would be out of this world, but don’t just take my word for it. 😛
“Yes, your joy will overflow!”