I am still trying to process just what happened this morning. In the quiet of the early morning I read a devotion by fellow blogger and writer Beth Willis Miller (http://bethwillismiller.blogspot.com). The devotion was titled "Our Inheritance in Christ". In it, Beth shared different translations of Ephesians 1:11-12.
And here is the staggering thing - that in all which will one day belong to Him, we have been promised a share (we were long ago pre-destined for an inheritance). (Ephesians 1:11)
Beth went on to point out so beautifully that In Christ we obtain an inheritance that can't ever be taken from us! Amen.
As the sun was rising, I plugged in my ear buds to listen to one of my favorite artists - Christy Nockels. As I walked I sang along (much to the birds dismay) to her song "Everything Is Mine In You". The chorus echoed what I had read this morning:
And You say, You are my inheritance
And in You, I have everything I need.
Fast forward to running errands...I popped into the local drugstore to pick up two prescriptions. It was still early and the store was quiet. I went to the pharmacy in the back of the store, paid for my prescriptions and was heading to the exit at the front of the store.
That's when I saw her - a beautiful young woman about my daughter's age. She had gorgeous ebony skin and long black hair. Her young baby sat wide eyed in her carrier seat, with deep chocolate eyes and long lashes, she gazed up at me.
An assortment of baby items lay on the counter...diapers, wipes, formula, water, baby food, etc. The young woman was visibly shaken and sobbing. Her arms were outstretched toward the cashier as if pleading with her.
"You don't understand," I heard the young woman eek out between hyperventilating breaths.
"I'm sorry ma'am. There's nothing I can do," the cashier replied in a monotone voice.
Part of me said, "This is not your business...keep on walking."
My heart said, "If this were my daughter, I'd want someone to come to her aid."
I kindly asked the cashier (with no personality) to put the items aside and I pulled the young woman and her baby aside. There in the nail polish aisle, her story unfolded.
I held her hand and rubbed her back to help her staccato breathing calm down some. As she wiped away the tears flowing from her eyes, I saw a very fresh, large red/purple mark by her temple, eye, and cheek. Clearly she had been hit recently...hit hard.
She tried explaining to me between halted breaths that this morning her boyfriend had beaten her and he had threatened to kill her. She was scared and frightened for herself and for her baby girl. On instinct she had done the only thing she knew to do at the time and that was to grab the baby, throw her into the back of their only car and flee.
She had called the cops on her boyfriend and then in an effort to survive had sped away. The only place she knew to go was to Texas where her parents and family still lived. The only problem was that her boyfriend obviously had the presence of mind to freeze any access she would have to cash or credit. Her MasterCard had failed to go through at the cashier's station....and that was just about the time I had come upon the scene.
"I'm Ashley," she sniffled and said between gasps of air, "and this is Iceland." She pointed to her five month old baby.
"I just left and we don't have anything," she started crying again. "I can't go back and I don't know what to do. My parents don't even know I've left him," she blurted out.
"Has he beaten you before?" I asked.
"Yes," she responded showing me bruises on both of her arms, her shoulders, and worst of all she lifted her pant leg to show me a gruesome scar with stitches from when he had shattered her ankle with a baseball bat.
That's when it really sunk in that this frightened young woman was fleeing in order to save her life.
Trying to calm her, I helped her to think of anything else she might need for the baby and for herself. It was evident she was in shock and was looking to me to think clearly. We grabbed several more items and I paid the still emotionless cashier. Then we headed out to her car.
"What's your name?" she asked me with gratitude in her soft, moist brown eyes.
"Beverly, but you can call me Bev," I responded.
"Thank you Miss Bev," she said. "Give me your phone number because I know my parents will want to repay you...I can't even begin to thank you enough."
I gave her my number, but first said, "You know, Ashley, I truly believe that everything I have comes from the Lord and honestly, it's not mine...it's ALL His and He would want me to help you."
"God bless you Miss Bev," she said sincerely.
I looked at her car as she gently strapped her tiny baby in and put the supplies in the back seat. It was a big SUV with quite a few years of wear on it and balding tires. As we talked further, I realized that they fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs and it would be a long trek to Texas. There was maybe a third of a tank of gas and she would need gas and food along the way.
"Wait here," I said and went back to get cash from the ATM machine. I put $200 in her hand and told her to use it as needed to be sure she got home. He had promised to marry her, she told me, and against her parents wishes she had come to NC with him. Now, the prodigal, she was returning home with her baby in tow. Again and again she profusely thanked me.
The last thing we did before she pulled out of the parking lot was we held hands and I prayed. I prayed for travelling mercies and for God to put a hedge of protection around Ashley and her precious baby. I prayed for peace and calm for her heart and for grace and mercy when she got home to Texas. I reminded her that she was a daughter of the King and that he loved her and would be with her every mile of the way.
I gave her a big hug and watched her pull away...still tears in her eyes.
God had given me His word and now He was testing me to see if/how I would act upon it.
God had told me that morning that my inheritance was in Christ not in my bank account.
But, now He wanted to know where my treasure truly did lie?!
This was the scripture that urged me to share what really wasn't mine to begin with...
The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it...(Psalm 24:1)
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:33-34)
I have been praying all day for this beautiful daughter of God. I will probably never see her and her baby again, but hopefully from our encounter she will know that God is good and He does provide in our time of need.
I know that the Lord tested me to see if what I had read and heard early this morning had made it to my heart...
Where there was once trepidation, now lies peace in knowing I was obedient to His word.
God does move in miraculous ways, but He needs us to be the hands and feet through which He moves...
How is God testing you in the reading and hearing of His word?
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that you care about all my needs and you want me to dwell in the refuge of your wings. I claim the promise that everything I have is in Christ... in Him is my inheritance that can never be taken away. Help me to store up my treasures in Heaven and not here on earth. Help me to give freely and generously from the abundance that you have given to me. Help me always to be obedient to your word. Thank you for your love and your provision. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Ps. Muskan, whose name means "smile" in Urdu is still in need of a sponsor so that she might seek refuge at Redeemer Christian School. This is her destitute family's only hope for her receiving an education. Her brother is sponsored and she wants to attend so badly. Will you please prayerfully consider giving just $10/month to give her the love of Jesus and the hope of an education?
Or send a donation to: Bev Rihtarchik (put RCS in the memo line)
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC 27513
There are also many more children who would love to be sponsored...the need is great!
MUSKAN Age 6