By Brenda Black
I wouldn't have believed it if I had not seen it. That same ghost town of a gas station I visited last week, where I prayed for a clerk with a bad headache, was booming with business on my return trip home the very next day. Before I ever hit the town, I waffled over the notion of stopping to see if my prayers had been answered. I nearly had myself persuaded there was slim possibility that the same girl would be at work on an entirely different shift, when I found myself in the left turning lane and committed.
There were cars at every pump, and five more parked at the store front. I entered the store to find a dozen customers, but my eyes went straight to the register. Quickly I knew this was not the same cashier of the day before and I almost turned and exited, telling myself it was silly to think she'd be here again all alone. But something pushed me to search further. Only then did I notice that not only was there an employee at the counter, there was another one near the door where I first laid eyes on Lisa the day before. And then, toward the coolers, huddled among shoppers, were three more Casey's employees, with clipboards in hand. None of them looked familiar.
I turned to leave after swiftly glancing down each row, when my focus shifted from the far end of the aisle to the candy bar counter. With her back to me, I couldn't be certain, but the young women counting sweet inventory in her Casey's smock came the closest to looking like what I remembered from my 2-minute encounter more than 24 hours earlier.
“Are you Lisa,” I ventured. She turned, a little startled, and said. “Yes,” but did not recognize me. I was not surprised. “I stopped in here yesterday morning and told you I would pray for your headache. I just wanted to see how God answered.”
Her eyes lit up and she said warmly, “Yes, it quit hurting about two. Thank you.”
I told her I was glad she got better and bid her “God bless you.” That was it. I had no particular expectations; didn't really come for the appreciation. I just wanted to hear that God answers prayer one more time. It never gets old - this proof of a loving God, full of grace, documented by one more touch on humanity. Even the most undeserving (that would include all of us) may experience the bliss of God's intervention if we just ask, believing, “for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” (2 Chronicles 30:9b)
That statement is straight from King Hezekiah's letter to the people of Israel, calling them to return to the Lord. Remarkably, this grace-filled God to whom Hezekiah pointed the people, is the same God of today who is merciful and forgiving and healing toward sinners.
“Although most of the many people who came...had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God – the Lord, the God of his fathers – even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.' And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” (2 Ch. 30:18-20)
God loves us. God hears us. God runs to us and wraps His arms around us if we just turn and face Him and honestly see how absolutely, completely destitute we are without His grace and compassion. “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God.” You see, bodily healing is but for the moment; spiritual healing is for eternity. The most important prayer God answers will always be “Forgive me.”