I was in a McDonald’s parking lot, off a highway exit, teeming with people. I saw a girl getting out of her car and I approached her.
“Hi, my name is Julie,” I said. “How are you doing?” “Terrible,” she replied with a scowl. I noticed her arm was bandaged.
“I’m sorry;” I responded in sympathy, “Let me show you something I have really quick.” I proceeded to show her my favorite book, Peace Above the Storm and rattled off the canvass with a silent prayer behind it. Her rejection was abrupt. Before she was able to escape, I stretched out my hand to give her a Happiness Digest and she took it.
While she was walking away I asked for a donation, and she turned with a heated glare and said, “I have NOTHING. Here. This is all I have.” The girl’s voice cracked as she held out
her hand and I took the present in half a state of shock. I looked. It was a small bag of rings.
What was I going to do with this? I turned and saw the girl had left her window rolled down. So I dropped the bag on her seat, prayed “Dear God let her read it,” and continued canvassing.
This is the story of hundreds of people. How many souls run away from us with that little book in their hands? How many people are rushed, upset, preoccupied, with no certain desire to receive your gift or your message? These people are forgotten by us, but we are not forgotten by them.
As I continued canvassing the same parking lot, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a figure was watching me. I continued to rattle off whatever I was saying, leaning over and focusing on this lady sitting inside of her car, expecting to get kicked out of the parking lot any minute by this observer. The moment I said, “Thank You, have a good day,” I turned to find the girl with the bandaged arm standing right there. She approached me, this time with a kind of pleading in her eyes.
“Look,” she implored, “You’re a sweet girl, but I’m not going to read this. Please take it.” She held out the Happiness Digest. I resisted her and kept my hands by my side, refusing to take it. I think I said something. The girl continued to persuade me, “I have nothing left. Nothing will help me. Please take it.” Her eyes were red.
This time I spoke for sure, but I do not remember my words. All I know is the force of conviction and feeling they bore. They were words of hope and encouragement. The girl began to tremble. When I paused, she spoke. “You don’t know how I feel. I have nothing left. There is no reason to live. Last night, I tried to take my life, and failed,” this statement carried a sting of bitterness as she motioned to the bandage on her arm. “I’m just tying up some loose ends, and tonight it’s over.”
All I could say in response to this shocking revelation was, “What’s your name?” It seemed like the most important question in the universe. To ask for her name was to recognize her identity. She was a soul. She was a child of God. She was of infinite value. But she resisted in giving me the answer, just shaking her head. After the third time, she answered, “Autumn.”
“Autumn,” I said, looking her straight in the eyes, “I know how you feel. Years ago I wanted to do the same thing. I read this book. It gave me hope. Take it as a gift from me, and read it.” By this time my eyes were watering. “Autumn, can I pray for you?” I held her hand, prayed for her, and then I hugged her and said, as I was hugging her, “I love you Autumn.” I meant it.
I believe Autumn has read that book already, and that she has given her life to Jesus. I believe that Jesus saved her from the darkness that day.