Thursday, January 29, 2009

Journal – The Search

Pin It There’s no other love quite like that of a mother.

Rewind: 12 or so years ago.

When I was living in Spokane, Washington, I was headed out to visit some friends late one night in Rockford. I was on the Argonne side of town, and had stopped off at SuperAmerica, a local gas station. When I went inside to pay for my fuel, I saw a woman—near hysterics—who was frantically telling the cashier that she was not familiar with this area, and had lost her car and her three young children who were in it.

My heart immediately went out to this woman, Rachel, who tearfully accepted my offer for help. As we began to drive down the side streets and alleyways she told her story. She and her three children, a ten year-old daughter, Savannah, and two sons, Ryan—who was eight, and Alex—who was two, had been driving to a friend’s house when their car had run out of gas. When it first started to splutter, she pulled off the main road to a side street. She figured that a gas station couldn’t be too far away. Thinking it was much too cold to take her children with her on a walk to find it, she told them to lock the doors and she would be right back.

It took Rachel nearly ten minutes to get to the gas station; once she got a borrowed gas can she found herself turned around, and couldn’t remember what direction she’d come from. She walked a bit in each direction, but soon realized that it was hopeless…she simply couldn’t remember where she’d left her car—and her children.

As we drove for the next 40 minutes I watched this woman as she broke into tears. She pleaded to the heavens. She even cursed at herself for her disorientation. There was nothing I could do…I could only to try to talk to her and be hopeful as we continued to drive up and down street after darkened street.

We couldn’t find them.

I was emitting silent prayers, imploring a loving God to show us the way…to help us to find her lost children.

No light or impressions came…we kept changing directions and cutting down street after street. “This looks familiar.” she’d say, becoming excited, but when her car was nowhere to be seen, she would begin to cry harder.

“What have I done!” she moaned. “I’ve lost my children!” She began to wring her hands and pull at her hair.

Rachel was at the breaking point.

I was starting to worry that something terrible had happened to her children.

Following a radical idea, I drove the other direction—opposite of where we’d been searching. In another few minutes we happened on a darkened street; in a bank parking lot I saw a police car.

The officer was standing next to a beige hatchback with three small children who were huddled together in the chilly evening air.

“It’s my kids!” Rachel shouted. Even before I had stopped the car Rachel had flung open the door and was sprinting toward her children. When she called their names they began to run to her…it was obvious that Savannah had tried to be brave for the sake of her brothers, but I could tell that she had been just as worried and scared as they were.

As I watched this little family embrace, I felt my heart flooding over with gratitude.

The officer asked a few questions as I emptied the contents of the gas can into her tank. In a few minutes the officer was finished, and Rachel’s children clambered back into the car; which was now running with the heater at full-throttle.

Savannah, Ryan, and Alex were relieved, they were safe.

Rachel faced me before climbing into her car. She had no words…nothing seemed to come. Her eyes again filled with tears as I asked if there was anything else they needed. She shook her head and then hugged me.

Words were not necessary, but she managed them anyway. “You’re an angel.” She whispered.

She climbed into her little car, and as I watched the taillights disappear into the darkness, I couldn’t help but whisper a prayer of thanks to a Heavenly Father who had watched out for these three little kids; and for their mother as she relentlessly searched for them.


mywest said...

WOW, Rachel was truly blessed this night.. Heavenly Father intervened and brought you both together. Son your a wonderful were then and still are.
Love, DAD

Anonymous said...

How terrifying for that mom! I'm so glad you not only saw her need but offered to help. There are not enough people like you in the world today. Most would walk by pretending not to notice even when the need is so obvious. I've seen you step in and step up on many occasions and it still impresses me.

Stephen T said...

You are AWESOME!!!

I want to be like you when I grow up!

Gerb said...

Wow - what an amazing story. That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes that goes something like this: God loves us and he watches over us, but it is through another person that He meets our needs.

cari said...

Amen to Anonymous' comment! A lot of people would pretend not to notice Rachel. What a blessing! Thanks for sharing.
(And thanks for agreeing to let Cole job shadow you. His dad just started a new job and can't have him there while he's training so you were his next choice. Thanks! Put him to work for you!)

Danielle said...

You're so wonderful, Jason.
You'd give the shirt off your back to anyone who needed it. I'm glad I can say we're related! :D

Allen said...

Of the many wonderful things that you are, you're also an angel. Not only to a desperate women in obvious need. You either have a natural gift for blessing the lives of those you meet, or you've worked hard developing it over your lifetime. Either way, you have it, and the word angel is a good way to describe it.

Allen said...

Correction: "desperate woman" (Sorry Gerb. And I realize the sentence is a fragment too. Oh well.)

Kathy said...

A mother's nightmare! I'm so thankful it was you who was there. Things could have turned out very differently.

Valerie said...

What a beautiful experience. How wonderful that you were able to give assistance and were inspired as to how to do so.

Kris said...

Thank you so much for showing us all what a great man you are...even though I think we already knew. I love this story because as a mother I feel the panic she felt. And the gratitude to an angel in a stranger's suit.

annette said...

Great. I just bawled my eyes out. I had somewhat similar concerns (although not quite as intense) with a flat tire on a desert road and 5 children in tow. Thank goodness we weren't far from our destination. I believe you were there for that one too.

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