As I wheeled my grocery cart toward the exit, I noticed store security pulling a young girl aside. From her oversized purse he withdrew two items – a small jar of peanut butter and a box of crackers.
“Do you have a receipt for these?” he asked.
She shook her head, staring at the floor in obvious embarrassment.
“Come with me,” he said gruffly. “I’m calling the police.”
“No, please,” the girl begged, “I-I’m sorry.”
“Too late for sorry,” he growled, hauling her toward the customer service desk.
Something niggled at me. She was a thin, stringy-haired teenager and what she had stolen wasn’t make-up, CDs, or jewelry. It was peanut butter and crackers. On impulse, I stepped forward.
“Uh, excuse me, Sir,” I said hesitantly. “Would you be so kind as to let me cover the items for her?”
“Do you know her?” He asked.
I didn’t want to lie, so I simply said, “Not personally, but I know someone who does.” The girl, who had been standing silently, tears trickling down her gaunt face, looked at me in disbelief.
I pulled ten bucks from my wallet. “This will more than cover it,” I said, handing it to the manager. “Please . . .”
He took the bill, bagged the items and handed them to the girl. “I don’t want to see you in this store again, you hear?”
She nodded wordlessly, then together we headed out. “Thank you,” she whispered, “Wh-why did you do that? You can’t know someone who knows me. I’m not from around here.”
It was starting to sprinkle. “Where’s your car?” I asked.
“I. . . uh. . . don’t have one.”
“Well then, how did you get here? And, where are you heading?"
“I . . . um . . . hitched a ride and I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m going to do . . .”
The next thing I knew she was sobbing in my arms and I was reassuring her that it (whatever it was) would be okay.
Oh, Lord, what am I supposed to do? I don’t really know this girl and what she might be capable of.
Suddenly the rain became a downpour. I grabbed her hand and pulled her toward my car. “Come on, we’re going to get soaked!” Reluctant and trembling, she came along. I suddenly realized that her risk was greater than mine. She had no idea what kind of person I was either.
First things first, I fixed us both a plate of leftover roast beef and potatoes. I announced that I would say grace and reached across the table for her hand, “. . . Lord, you know this young lady and I just ask that you allow me to be an extension of your love as we trust that you will bless her and meet her every need. . .”
I looked up to see tears in her eyes. “My name is Sarah,” she said. “Thank you for your kindness.”
“Well, my name is Gloria and you are most welcome. I may not know you, Sarah, but Jesus does.”
As she got the drift of what I’d meant in the store, she cast me a shy smile.
It was a long night. Pulling Sarah’s story from her was painful for both of us. As she talked and cried, I listened and prayed.
“I’m 4 months pregnant and my boyfriend told me to drop dead.” She sobbed softly. “My mom’s an alcoholic and lives with a guy who beats her up. He told me to have an abortion.” She looked at me with firm resolve, “I won’t kill my baby. God would never forgive me for that.” She put her face in her hands and wept.
“Yes, God would,” I assured her. “But that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.”
That night as Sarah slept in the guest room, I pondered and prayed.
Over breakfast, I shared my own story with Sarah, telling her that I’d be blessed if she'd allow me to help her as I once wished someone had helped me when I was her age and in the same situation.
I didn’t know if Sarah would choose adoption or raising her child, but I knew she would not have to live a single day with the haunting realities of abortion.
God had entwined our lives with purpose . . . to breathe new life into both of us.
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