There were some days when it was very hard for Bill Taggert to focus on his job, ….this was one of those days. His thoughts were still at home with nine-year-old, Carrie. He supposed he should have grown used to it by now, but does anyone really ever get used to the suffering of their child? The chemotherapy actually took a toll on the entire family, yet it remained that necessity of "fighting fire with fire".
"Got that report yet Bill?" Spoke Fred Winston, as he stepped into Bill's work cubicle.
"Yeah, sure Fred." Bill replied, picking up a file from his desk and handing it over.
"Thanks…. Oh,….." Fred interjected as a quick after-thought. "….how's the kid doing?"
"Not so good I'm afraid." Bill replied. "But thanks for asking."
"Gee I'm sorry to hear that." Fred sympathetically shook his head. "Well,tell Carol I said hi." He smiled, then exited as quickly as he had entered.
Bill glanced at his desk clock and saw that it was nearly five O'clock, so he shut down his office computer, grabbed up his briefcase and quickly left for the day.
The traffic on the Harrisburg was always heavy at rush hour, but for some reason today's commute was a real "bumper to bumper" all the way from Forty Ninth street west. Bill turned on his car radio, catching the last few moments of a Christian broadcast as he waited in a long line of "inching" vehicular congestion. The message was on the need for graciousness and compassion in the lives of believers. As he listened to the teaching, he thought of how that same spirit was a natural in his Carrie. He recalled incidents from the past when she had ignored her own state of nearly constant pain to help a friend or neighbor in need. By that very kindness to others, she had in fact served as a great example to even him in the art of unselfish love.
When the traffic finally crawled beyond the first turn of the freeway, Bill noticed an old station wagon off to the side of the road ahead. It's hood was up, and steam was pouring from the engine. He saw an elderly man standing outside the car, appearing to be very anxious and desperate. Inside the car sat a woman (presumably the man's wife)fear and distress obvious on her care-worn face.
Bill knew that if he gave up his spot in the line of traffic that he would not be able to regain position and likely be forced to exit at the next ramp on the opposite side of town from his home. He had this intense desire to hurry home to Carol and little Carrie, but the words of the message kept playing on his conscience with all the persistence of a catchy tune.
As the line of traffic moved alongside the disabled station wagon, Bill could see a cardboard sign in the rear left window of the car which read:
WILL WORK FOR FOOD OR SHELTER
"That did it!" Bill thought to himself,… late or not he couldn't leave these poor people stranded. He steered sharply to the right, bringing his vehicle out of the line of traffic, and pulled to a stop in front of their car.
Within minutes he had the couple with him, driving down the exit ramp onto Forty Second Street. Thinking that they might be hungry as well as stranded, Bill invited them to his house for supper so he could summon a mechanic and they could receive needed rest and nourishment. The couple was most appreciative and eagerly accepted his invitation. In conversation, he learned their names were Jacob and Ruth Slegna, they were homeless, and did whatever work they could do to support themselves in transient. They told Bill they were Christians and indeed seemed very knowledgeable on the Scriptures and teachings of Christ.
Bill contacted Carol on his cell phone, and advised her he was bringing guests to supper. After about a twenty-minute drive they pulled into his driveway. Carol had prepared a large roast with all the trimmings, and without the slightest hesitation, cordially welcomed the guests into their home. Bill immediately telephoned a local mechanic, commissioning him to tow the Slegna's disabled vehicle into his shop for repair.
All that evening Jacob and Ruth were especially attentive to little Carrie.
They could clearly see that she was dealing with a lot of pain and post-treatment discomfort. To Carrie they seemed like special grandparents, she was comforted by their softness of character, their interest in her and genuine concern evidenced in their voices.
When it came time for Bill to transport them to the garage for their vehicle, Jacob asked Bill and Carol if they would allow him to pray over Carrie. Though they were somewhat surprised at the request, being believers themselves they gratefully welcomed the gesture.
"Almighty God,….." Jacob began, as he and Ruth placed their hands on Carrie's head. "….the only great Creator/Father, we, Your humble servants ask Your blessing on this household in accordance with Your words of Hebrews 13:2. We trust in Your will for Carrie, and beseech Your grace and mercy for her. We ask Your healing of her infirmities, giving You alone all glory and honor…. in the matchless name of the Lord, King of glory…Jesus Christ,….Amen."
Upon the conclusion of Jacob's prayer, they said their goodnights and Bill started walking them out the front door, when the telephone rang and Carol quickly answered.
"Bill,…." She called out. "…..it's for you….it's the garage."
"Excuse me folks, you can go on out to the car if you'd like and I'll be there in a minute."
"That will be fine Bill." Jacob responded, as he and Ruth continued walking down the steps.
Bill came back inside and took the telephone.
"Hello." He answered.
"Hello Bill?...." Spoke the caller. "…..this is Randy down at the garage. I hate to tell you, but I never did find that station wagon you wanted me to tow…..drove all over the freeway on every exit, but it just wasn't there."
"Well, Randy it was just East of exit thirty-five westbound."
"I don't know what to tell you Bill." He said, with perplexity shading his voice. "It sure wasn't there when I arrived, and I couldn't find it anywhere along the Harrisburg."
"Well,….okay Randy…." Said Bill in confused resignation. "….I'll tell those folks and I'll get back to you."
Bill hung up the phone and hurried outside to speak with the Slegna couple, but they were nowhere in sight. Instead he found a beautifully
handwritten note taped to the passenger window of his car which read:
Dear Taggert family,
We thank you for your hospitality and wish you every blessing from our Holy God.
We won't require transportation from you, for HE has taken us home.
Please know that our prayers were heard and honored,…..Carrie is freed from her leukemia….she'll require no further medical treatments.
Through the love of Christ our King,
As Bill turned slightly, he caught a glimpse of the note reflected in his side view mirror and observed the signature, it appeared like this:
Bill ran back in the house to tell Carol and Carrie and found them in a happy embrace.
"Oh daddy,…." Carrie called out with joy. "…I suddenly feel wonderful!"
"Bill!....." Carol exclaimed. "….hurry back out and tell the Slegnas to come back in here,…..something,…something miraculous has happened
to our Carrie!"
Bill just smiled and sat down in the chair as he stared at the note in his hand. "Oh, I think they already know Carol…." He said with curious humor. "……I think they already know."
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." (Hebrews 13:2 - N.I.V.)