WELCOME TO OUR GUEST AUTHOR, BARB WAITE – Elsie: Adventures of an Arizona School Teacher 1913-1916 and Elsie’s Mountain: Memories of Palomar & Southern California 1897-1987
Last night as I struggled to fall asleep, a 25-year-old memory slammed into my thoughts and left me wide awake, remembering a long-ago day and God’s provision of comfort.
It had been a turbulent news week for me personally. My husband and I served as Christian missionaries on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean. We lived over 2,500 miles away from my father in California, and he was dying. Our teenage son had purposely gotten kicked out of college a week before—again, thousands of miles away from us. I felt drained.
I served as an unofficial hostess for people visiting our Caribbean Radio Lighthouse ministry on the little island. An American family, Mr. and Mrs. “E” and their college age daughter, spent a week vacationing at a nearby hotel. Miss E visited our radio facility daily while preparing a paper for one of her college courses.
One day I offered to drive Mrs. E and her friend to town. I didn’t share anything with the women about my heavy burdens. Attempting to make light conversation, I instead asked what shops they might enjoy browsing. Observing their clothing and jewelry, I thought they might be interested in Columbian emeralds, popular gemstones in our part of the world.
Mrs. E’s friend asked that I take them to a nice clothing store. I decided House of 1,000 Flowers, known for expensive and gorgeous island attire, would be a good choice. It was the kind of store I had only walked past and window-shopped.
I asked the women if they wanted me to come back at an agreed time. Mrs. E’s friend said, “Come with us.” I stood and merely observed as the two women looked at all the lovely outfits. I knew I could never afford the clothing in that shop, so I didn’t spend time looking at individual pieces.
Soon Mrs. E’s friend turned to me and said, “This would look good on you. Try it on.”
The salesclerk hovering nearby opened the door to a fitting room, and in a daze I went in and slipped on the outfit. Before I could question why I was trying on such an expensive item, the saleslady handed me a belt that had a $60 price tag.
“Add this and let me see,” she said.
As the salesclerk continued to bring outfits, I became nervous. What was happening? Why did she insist that I try on the clothes?
I soon got my answer when, in shock, I heard Mrs. E’s friend say, ”Okay, we will buy it all!”
I realized later that God had used a nameless stranger to temporarily ease my feelings of grief as his comfort flowed through this woman and washed over my wounded spirit.
I don’t remember crying or falling on the floor or shouting. I do remember an immediate realization that God had covered me in non-essential, unneeded, unmerited grace and love with a gorgeous new wardrobe, and I was warmly comforted by a woman who spent over $600 on me, a total stranger. She was unaware that God had used her to sooth my troubled heart and bring comfort in a way that I have never forgotten.
Over the years we have received larger unmerited gifts, but never anything that demonstrated God’s care in quite the same way as that day when I felt the “incomparable riches of his grace.”
“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” –Ephesians2:7,
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” –Hebrews 13:2