“Please don’t ask me again,” said Elaine. “I think you’re great, and I’m glad I have someone to eat lunch with, but I’m just not into religion any more. I’ll never step foot inside another church, okay?”
Pam finished her Coke. “Sure, Elaine. I’m glad I’ve got a new friend at work, too. I’ll stop bugging you about church—but I’ll never stop praying for you.”
“Whatever. Time to get back to work, old Scrooge’ll be waiting for us.”
Later that evening, Elaine choked back a lump in her throat, and poured a second glass of wine. Why does Pam have to be so darned…nice? Well, I don’t care. If she won’t drop that churchy stuff, I’ll drop her. I don’t need God any more…I wonder if God hears when Pam prays…why didn’t He hear me, when I needed Him?
In her own apartment, Pam talked to her best Friend. Please mend her hurt, Lord. She’s not listening to me any more. Maybe she needs…something to push her back into Your arms.
The next morning, Elaine’s sister called her, frantic. “Sweetie, you’ve got to help me out! You know that toy that’s all the rage this year—that remote control car that flips and rights itself?”
Elaine held the phone away from her ear; her sister was practically screaming. “Yeah, I hear you can’t get them anywhere.”
Jodie babbled on. “I’ve just heard there’s a shipment of them at that toy store near you, but I’ve got to take Alex to the dentist, and Joe’s working late. Can you pleeeeeeeeease hurry down there and get one for Alex? He’ll die if he doesn’t get one!”
Elaine sighed. She had her morning planned—moping, pouting, and feeling sorry for herself. “All right, all right, I’ll get the stupid car.”
Her sister was right; the Super Flipz Remote Car was practically flipping itself off the shelves. Elaine grabbed the next-to-last box, and hurried out with the bulky package. I should have driven. I had no idea the box would be this big. Elaine hefted the box several different ways, trying to find a comfortable way to carry it. Finally she settled on hugging the toy car, and peeking around the box every few steps.
Unseen by the Christmas shoppers on the sidewalks that morning was Judith, Elaine’s guardian angel. She’d been waiting eagerly for this, her moment to act. Wait…wait...wait…now! Judith stuck out her angelic foot, and tripped Elaine, sending her sprawling.
“What the…” Elaine looked around to see what had caused her to trip. (She neither saw nor heard Judith’s winged retreat). Using the box containing the toy car to push herself off the sidewalk, she cried out in pain. Her ankle felt as if someone had taken a hammer to it. She looked around for help, but the street was suddenly empty.
Another attempt to stand, another agonized yelp. This time, a door opened, and a voice said, “What happened?”
“I fell! I think my ankle’s broken.” Grateful for the strong arms that carried her inside, Elaine nevertheless mumbled inwardly. Just like me to trip and break my ankle at Christmastime. “Hey, get that box for me, okay? It’s got a car for my nephew.”
As her rescuer retrieved the car, Elaine looked around. She was in a church—the church she passed every day, eyes averted, determined not to be drawn in. Her words to Pam at lunch yesterday came back to her—I’ll never step foot inside another church. Well, she hadn’t exactly stepped foot in here, had she?
“You were lucky to get that car! Now, can I call someone for you?” The young man looked concerned. “I’m not usually here on Saturdays. I was just practicing some Christmas music on my guitar when I heard you yell. Someone’s really looking out for you, huh?”
Elaine flexed her ankle gingerly. The pain was subsiding. “You know, I don’t think it’s broken after all…can I just sit here a bit, and listen to you practice?”
“Sure thing!” He loped away, picking up his guitar and strumming an old familiar tune.
I’ll never step foot inside another church…someone’s looking out for me…someone’s looking out for me…
The words of the carol broke into Elaine’s thoughts.
Come, Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.
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