A young woman sitting next to Hope on the airplane saw Hope clutching the filigree heart locket to her chest.
“Does that hold some special meaning to you?” The woman asked, starting a conversation.
The fragile piece was a reminder to Hope of the day someone loved her as a stranger, unlocking the door between her and God.
“Yes, it does hold special meaning for me.” Hope told the woman about the recent events of her life, as she slipped into remembering that day.
Dire warnings about Hurricane Katrina had found her stranded on the only road out of town with no life sustaining necessities. Things taken for granted had disappeared before her very eyes.
Blame hauntingly nagged her. You should have left sooner. You should have listened to the warnings from the authorities. You had to be in control of your destiny. Well, look where it has brought you.
Hope wailed uncontrollably, “Why did I wait so long? Is anyone out there?”
Empty echoes were her only reply. Alone and afraid, the feelings of her orphan years overwhelmed her. The years of being turned down for adoption stirred emotions she had chosen to lock away, feelings of rejection and abandonment. From the day Hope walked out of the orphanage, she had made a declaration to be self-reliant, needing no one. She had made her own way and lacked nothing.
Self-doubt leered back at her, laughing at her inability to cope with the situation at hand. “Who’s in control now, dear girl?”
Sighing deeply, exhaustion set in and she slumped next to the roadway. All her education and self-reliance couldn’t conjure up one drink of water or piece of bread.
“God help me!” She rasped with a swollen tongue and parched mouth. “If you are real, save me?” Those were the last words she remembered speaking out loud.
Driving slower than usual to preserve fuel, Dennis proceeded to get his wife and two surviving daughters to safety out of Hurricane Katrina’s turbulent path. The car was packed with the precious supplies Sue kept on hand in case of emergencies. Sue always kept a calm head during frenzied moments, like grabbing the little jeweled box before deserting the house. The box held a locket they had bought for their daughter, Charity before she passed on to be with the Lord.
Dennis glanced over to Sue, as she met his gaze. “What are you thinking, Sue?”
“I’m thankful we left when the authorities told us to evacuate. And I’m asking the Lord to protect our Charity’s resting place, so it doesn’t flood as we have seen elsewhere on the television news.”
Dennis nodded in silent agreement. Then he broke out into his resonant tone, singing praises to God. The family joined together in harmonious song, as gratefulness filled their hearts. As He had always done, God came through just in time to provide for whatever the need.
Looking through the car window, Sue abruptly stopped singing and focused her eyes on the small frame of Hope who had collapsed at the side of the road. “Stop, Dennis!” She shouted.
Even as Sue spoke, Dennis had pulled over. “Get some water, Faith! Hurry!” He instructed, as he jerked open the car door and Faith quickly obeyed her father.
Sue began to pray, as Dennis lifted Hope’s body off the ground. Slowly, Hope came out of the darkness from blacking out; she remembered her last conscious thoughts. God really did exist. He really did care about her.
Dennis gently placed her between his two daughters Faith and Grace. The family resumed their journey after giving sustenance and water to Hope. Their kindness had revived her. Hope opened up about herself, as the family conversed with her. Her life’s story tumbled from her lips. All the pretences of being in control of her destiny were gone, leaving her with uncertainty.
With shoulders drooping, Hope had no more words left to speak. The child, Grace reassuringly took Hope’s hand and asked, “Do you love Jesus like I do?”
“No,” Hope shook her head, “but I want to.”
As Hope finished telling her tale to the stranger, she realized she still held the heart locket. She looked at the young woman sitting next to her in the airplane. “The family gave this locket to me reminding me of the day God unlocked my heart.”
Turning all of her attention to the inquisitive woman, Hope asked, “Do you love Jesus, like I do?”
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