I trudged along the deserted highway and shifted my backpack’s weight on my shoulder. I didn’t know how far I’d walked, but I didn’t care. It was well past midnight before I saw any headlights and I stuck out my thumb, begging for a ride. The semi slowed and pulled onto the shoulder in front of me. I jogged up to the cab and stopped as the trucker opened his door and stared down at me
“Need a lift?”
Something about his voice was so reassuring. I nodded.
“Hop in.” It was several miles before any more was said. “Little young to be out this late.” It was directed as a question, but I didn’t want to talk about it.
“I’m old enough.”
“Where ya headed?”
“Nowhere,” I mumbled. The ride was silent until twenty minutes later as a building came into view.
“I can leave you here,” the trucker offered.
I nodded lamely. As I climbed down from the cab, the trucker waved. “Just tell her I brought you. She’ll take care of you.”
I offered a confused smile of thanks and headed to the door of the roadside motel. As I stepped inside, an elderly woman greeted me.
“Come in! Don’t be timid.”
I thought it strange a woman of her age would be up this late. “Um…a trucker dropped me off and said that you’d - ”
“Oh, yes,” she cut me off with a smile. “Don’t worry about a thing. Follow me and I’ll get you something to eat. You’re skin and bones.”
My eyes widened at her generosity. What could I do but comply? Not much later, I was wolfing down a sandwich.
“Why don’t you tell me your story?” the lady quietly asked from the other side of the table.
I studied her probing eyes. “What story?”
She gave me a look, assuring me she wasn’t stupid. “It’s not every night a runaway finds refuge in my motel. Why don’t you tell me why you left home?” She looked at me with such compassion and such sorrow as if she could see straight to my heart.
As I met her caring gaze, my walls of defense seemed to crumble. It was if all of my frustrations needed to be let out, and something told me I could trust her. I needed someone to talk to. Hardly wondering how she’d figured me out, I broke down. With tears streaming down my face, I told her how I felt so worthless and could never do anything right for my parents. How I was a failure, and how I just didn’t want to go on. How instead of going home after school that afternoon, I’d started walking. “So I left,” I sniffed.
The old lady sighed. “Your parents are worried about you and love you very much. You’re certainly not a failure.”
“But…I’m no good at anything. And now my parents will hate me for running away.”
“Your parents won’t hate you, and you’re good at many things. God made each of us for a purpose, and that includes you.”
I blew my nose in a napkin. “God?”
“Yes, of course. God loves you too, you know. And it breaks His heart to see you so discouraged.” The old lady smiled. “Chin up. Things go wrong in everyone’s lives. Just trust God to carry you through. Give Him your worries.”
For some reason, her simple words were just what I needed to hear. Courage rose up in my heart with a longing for peace. “But how?”
The woman presented a Bible and for the next hour, we read, talked and prayed. Filled with a new hope for life and a realization of God’s love, I gave my heart to Christ. I knew then that I did have a purpose. Despite my mistakes, God loved me, and I needed to share that love. My parents needed to know God too, and I now had a mission…
“…a trucker dropped me off at that motel on highway 87 where - ”
“Wait,” my father interrupted the next day as I sat with him on our porch. “A motel?”
“Yes,” I nodded. “About thirty-five miles from town.”
“Sweetheart…no motels are on that highway.”
With humility and awe, I suddenly realized what had happened. A tear surfaced as I silently thanked God for His messengers.
“Have I got a story for you…”
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