Three stories, three strangers...the memory of my encounters today will forever change the way I see a stranger.
I kicked back in the elevator to enjoy a rare, peaceful moment once the “Elevator-Button-War” ended as my children and I rode down after an appointment. That peaceful moment was really more like a nano-second because as soon as the doors opened, all hell broke loose.
My pokey four-year-old was the last to exit the elevator doors. He was holding a beloved sticker he had just received (for "good behavior") when the slight breeze from the doors closing snatched the sticker from his hands. We all watched helplessly as the doors shut and sealed us from Judah’s little “precious”.
Weeping and gnashing of teeth ensued.
I frantically pressed the button but the elevator was already ascending to new heights while my little boy was descending to a pile of tears. I instructed my other children to remain in stand-by-emergancy mode while I knelt by Judah and tried to negotiate with a grief-stricken boy.
The elevator doors reopened to reveal...nothing. The sticker was M.I.A. While I was racking my brain to come up with something that would be as incredible as a fire-breathing dragon sticker so that Judah would be distracted long enough to get him to our car without causing even MORE of a scene, an angel appeared.
Enter into the scene Stranger #1: He was a tall man wearing a baseball cap and a hooded sweatshirt with lots of wrinkles around the corner of his eyes when he smiled .
“Are you looking for a little sticker?” He asked me and when I nodded, he grinned, “I saw it up on the fifth floor, I’ll go get it!” Before I could stop him (because I’m sure he had NOTHING better to do during a work-day than ride elevators to rescue little stickers!), the doors closed and he was gone. He reappeared, his halo shining brightly, holding that blasted, I mean, blessed sticker. Judah promptly grabbed the sticker and mumbled a "thank-you" while I resisted hugging him as he waved off the noble gesture then disappeared.
Our next stop that day was to pick up some photographs that we had taken of the children. I had browsed through the extra photos they offered and although I loved them, I knew it would be more than we could afford so purchased only the original package. After I left and took out the photos, I noticed all the pictures were in my bag. I was shocked. We hadn’t paid for the extra pictures; how did they get into our bag? I hurried back to the shop to return the other photos certain that there had been a mistake when Stranger #2 appeared.
“There is no mistake,” The lady with bright, blue eyes said with a smile, “I am giving all those pictures to you.” I tried to refuse but she waved off the gesture and crossed her arms, adamant about me keeping all the photographs. I thanked her for the gift, watching her return to the photo studio with a flash of her angel-wings.
My last errand was to a department store to “quickly” grab a few items we couldn't make it to the end of the day without them. Of course, by the time we were exiting the store, “quick” was a distant memory and my five-year-old was pushing the extra cart (nevermind that he couldn’t actually SEE over it!) with our “few items”. Just as I was attempting to help Gideon steer (after sending yet another person to the hospital with “cart-crash-injuries”) while steering my own cart towards the parking-lot, Stranger #3 suddenly showed up.
“Here, let me take this cart and help you!” She had an easy laugh that filled my frazzled heart with joy as she boldly stepped in to help us out. She smoothed a wrinkled sweater as she looked us over and commented with a knowing smile, “You must be a Christian.”
I wasn’t exactly sure why she thought that but figured it was either because I hadn’t yet (yet is the key word here, ha!) used any expletives in our given situation or because it was apparent my hubby and I were breeding like bunnies. Either way, it was true, so I nodded and smiled back.
She was practically glowing while she chatted my ear off on the way out to our vehicle. Once there, she insisted upon loading all the bags into the back while I loaded up the kids and I reluctantly gave in (accepting help is not my strong suit!). While I was strapping in my little girl and before I could even get her name or express my undying gratitude, I heard her call out “good-bye” as she too, with a pinch of angel dust, disappeared.
I reflected on our busy, ordinary day that, because of encountering three angelic-strangers, had become rather extraordinary. You never know who has a halo hidden under a baseball-cap or a pair of glowing wings concealed beneath a wrinkled sweater.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1-3