Sometimes the most wonderfully unexpected things happen by means of surprising circumstances!
Our grandson came to stay with us this past summer. He’s 12 1/2 years old and quickly approaching the age when it just won’t be cool to hang out with Mamaw anymore. At least this is what my logical mind keeps telling me. I cherish my time with this young man for he is quite wonderful and amazing. We both love to laugh at things. When he was little, I would often launch into absolute buffoonery just to make him and his sisters laugh. Carter has the greatest dimples and when he laughs long and hard, he often says he’s having a dimple freeze meaning his face hurts from so much laughter. That’s what I always hoped for; dimple freezes translating into we are having laugh attacks together.
Well, during that week he showed signs of wanting to hang out with Papa some and so they did some landscaping work with a bobcat tractor that Carter got to drive for the first time. He was loving it and I might add, he took to it more readily than grandpa did when he learned! Not surprising with today’s youth who grow up on technology, video games and joysticks. He rambled around the yard with absolutely no problems! Then Papa gave him a few lessons in the art of the golf swing and they spent a few hours throughout the week up in the shop, swinging away at the little white ball into papa’s golf net setup. Seems Carter has his daddy’s natural ability to have a pretty hefty golf swing; Papa was impressed. They also shot at targets with a 22 pistol and all these things added up to wonderful “guy time” for Papa and Carter.
As usual Carter and I had a few laughter moments (the old girl still has the knack!), but sadly, I had to work a bit harder to find the silly space between us. My moments with him came in dreaming up meals that I knew he would appreciate or at the very least like, helping to plan out what we were all doing, and in confounding the boy by trying to turn facts into secrets or silly untruths. He’s got me figured out pretty well at this age!
Then came Saturday. Papa was going to be gone at a golf tournament that had been planned prior to our knowing Carter was coming to stay with us. What were we going to do for the day? Carter was pretty agreeable to most anything we discussed and then he had an idea. “How about we do another one of those treasure hunts Mamaw?” This statement caused no small amount of contemplation on my part. You see, a treasure hunt is something of a spiritual exercise. You pray beforehand and ask the Lord for clues to help you find people who need prayer. Clues can include such things as colors, locations, body parts (meaning a limp, a cast on a wrist, a brace of some sort, anything physical that can be seen), specific articles of clothing, or any other thing to help you find God’s treasure (the person) for prayer. We had done one of these with all three of our grandchildren about three years before; the results were pretty outstanding and the day made a lasting impression on these kids. Shucks, they made a lasting impression on us adults as well!
So, Carter wanted to do another treasure hunt. As wonderful as they are, treasure hunts can cause issues. Issues like fear, insecurities, and other such distracting things to surface. And, since it had been quite awhile since I had participated in a treasure hunt, all the uncertainties of treasure hunts started screaming in my head. “Oh my goodness, I have to muster up courage to approach people!”, “what if someone yells at me?”, and a myriad of other objections wouldn’t leave me alone. And yet, here is this 12-year-old looking at me with all the confidence in the world that his grandmother is going to take him out on a God adventure and we’re going to pray for people’s needs. I simply could not let this moment and opportunity pass.
So, off we went into town, armed with our individual lists of clues that included mostly colors, articles of clothing, and a person with a limp. First we went to one of the grocery stores in town that is situated in a strip mall. We took our dog with us since she usually is a people magnet. No one approached us; the dog was not working her charms that day! We spotted a couple of people with the right color or piece of clothing, and even a man with a limp, but I couldn’t bring myself to chase them out in the parking lot as they approached their cars. With much frustration, we commented to each other that this was turning out to be harder than the last time we did this. Finally, we saw a friend leaving in her car and we promptly waved her down to talk. We told her what we were doing and she told us we could pray for a need she had this day. With our pump primed now, she drove off and we decided to go to another store in town.
We left Sophie in the car and went inside. Looking down the aisles, we finally noticed a woman with a gray sweater, two of the clues on our sheets. We approached. I excused my intrusion and waited for the woman to acknowledge me. She continued staring at the shelves of items in front of us. Inside, I was dying! “Oh my gosh, this woman thinks I’m a fruitcake! We should just walk away,” I bemoaned to myself. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Carter, waiting for his grandmother to launch into action. How could I bolt with those eyes upon me? And so I launched into my speech: “Hi, this is my grandson and we are on a treasure hunt today from the Lord. You are wearing a gray sweater and that was a clue He gave us this morning as we prayed about how we were to find folks who need prayer. We believe you are one of God’s treasures. Do you by chance have a need today that we could pray about for you?” The woman had remained looking straight ahead at the shelves until I finished talking. She finally turned to look at me, smiled, and said, “oh I don’t think I have any needs today.” I thanked her, apologized for interrupting her shopping trip and wished her a blessed day.
As we walked off, Carter said, “well, that was awkward, wasn’t it?” I couldn’t have agreed more. I felt that this was a bust idea, but for Carter’s sake I never let on how insecure I was feeling at the moment. We looked for more treasures for another ten minutes or so and I finally said we should head for home. I was so disappointed. I had been sure the Lord would use us because He knows how tentative a 12-year-old’s faith is and I didn’t want the enemy to win. Somehow my disappointment was quickly being transformed into thoughts of failure, all tied up with my fears and doubts about my own courage in this experiment. We slowly walked out the door. Off to my right was a pharmacy walk-up window and there, standing against a short wall waiting her turn at the window, was an older woman in a blue shirt and a flowery, knitted cap, more of our clues. I knew in my heart that this was a woman going through chemo and the hat was covering her bald head. I motioned to Carter that she was one of our treasures and he agreed; we approached the woman.
Once again, we introduced ourselves to her and told her of our purpose; “…you are wearing a blue shirt and a flowery cap, two of our clues this morning as we prayed and we wonder if you have a need we could pray for today?” She looked at us and quickly answered, “I do have a need. I have cancer.” I asked if we might pray for her there and she told us yes. And just like that, the day was transformed from an awkward personal challenge into a total victory for the Lord. Did He heal her? We don’t know. But did He touch her? I think so.
My day began as most others save for the fact that our grandson was visiting with us. Carter, with a childlike faith to be used by God and his trust in his grandmother’s ability to lead the way, transformed the day into something magical. I have every confidence that the Lord smiled down on all of us that day. The woman in the gray sweater may or may not have had any needs, but I’m positive God will use the moment to cause questions to rise up in her thoughts about people, their willingness to reach out, and about this God who gives them courage to do so. For the woman with cancer there may be healing or any other number of possibilities only He knows, the least of which could be encouragement on a rough day from two strangers. For a grandmother with a very trusting grandson, I am humbled. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on the treasure hunt. Once begun, I felt I was failing God miserably with my fears and lack of courage. But in the end, the Lord turned it all into victory. A glorious, full-of-God possibilities, wonderful, victory for two women, a hesitating grandmother, and a brave hearted, God loving 12-year-old. It was all Carter’s fault!