One cold winter evening I was serving as an on-call chaplain for a local hospital. When I entered the family area of the emergency room, I met a very young, possibly teenaged, couple. The woman was greatly pregnant. She and her husband told me about driving her mom from a remote rural area to the emergency room, and they didn’t know how they were going to pay for her care or when they would get back home. My heart ached as I heard their story of needing to be home. I carried their story for several days and shared it with my spiritual director. She noted, “How was it to meet Mary and Joseph?” The thought had never entered my mind, but once she mentioned it the association was obvious. Since that night, I have kept my eyes open for the biblical characters that bring their stories literally into my life. I have been delighted by the people I have met.
Just this week I met someone else. As I pumped gas, Audrey, my five-year-old daughter, knocked on the car window. Expecting a complaint, I asked with annoyance, “What?!” She pointed to the front of the car and said, “There’s a lot of smoke up there.” Indeed, there was smoke billowing from under the hood of my car. I raised the hood and wondered, “What? Why? What do I do?”
An African American man called to me from the next pump, “Did you blow a hose?” I answered, “I have no idea. I think it’s overheated.” He came over and showed me that the coolant was full so the car could not be overheating. So what was causing the cloud of white smoke? He asked, “Do you mind if I check the oil?” He assessed that I needed a quart of oil and that the car should go to my mechanic. Kindly, he asked, “Do you have far to go?” And I replied, “Only three or four miles.” He thinks my car can make it that far. I thank him for his compassion help.
As I smile my appreciation, an image of God flashes through my mind. I have this moment of visualizing this fifty-year-old African American man as God and his help as grace offered freely. I find myself thinking, “How merciful is it that his man was the presence of God to me today?” Just when I was driving the girls to the library and not expecting anything, especially a smoking car, God shows up. How amazing is that?
I imagine that you have met a Paul, a Mary, and Joseph, or even God in your daily routine of life. Did you recognize them? Give yourself permission to see who God brings to you. Listen to what they say. Pay attention to how they embody the presence of God. Ask, “Is this person’s faith story one that I recognize from the Bible?” You will be surprised by the people you meet. He/she may even offer you grace when you feel overwhelmed by a smoking car.
Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.