“I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help.” (Verses 1-3, New Living Translation)
Certainly, this was an exact picture of the distraught young Sojourner. How I cried out for the Lord’s help… to protect me and to help me find my way back home. As I walked long into the night hours, I repented, mightily, for ever going where I knew I just did not belong. I was sorry for the mistake I had made, again, just trying to please a friend and rejecting what I knew was the right thing to do… stay away from the potential for illegal consumption of alcohol and unfaithfulness to my guy at home. How would Curt feel if he knew I was in this party, so overloaded with drunken guys? And, how did God feel about what I had done? Could I even ask for His help when it was my own fault that I’d found myself in this awful dilemma? Funnily enough, when I was much younger, I understood God a lot better than I seemed to now. I remembered those days as a child when God and I were great friends and I longed for that again. Parts of Psalm 77 could have been written, specifically, to help me describe that frighteningly lonely night.
“I think of the good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now.” (Verses 5-6)
I wondered if God would answer my cry for help or just how long He would be angry with me.
“Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?” (Verses 7-9)
Up and down the streets I trod; my heavy heart overriding the fatigue my legs should be feeling. What could I do? I was about cried out and began what all people do in times of distress that has come upon them due to their own bad judgment or choice; I started to make promises to God. If only He would rescue me from this night, I would never forget all of His mighty works, past or present. I would always remember the stories in the Bible actually happened by the mighty hand of our powerful God. Our God who forgives kids when they mess up, royally.
“And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations. By your strong arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.” (Verses 10-15)
God had been in my own life, too, as a child but, somehow, I lost that closeness with Him when I began to grow up. Well, one thing I knew for sure… I couldn’t get myself back to the dorm but I knew God knew the way. If He led Moses and the people in the desert for forty years and then led them through the Red Sea, how hard could it be for God to get me back to the campus?
“Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters— a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.” (Verses 19-20)
Finding the right streets should be easier than that, right? I stopped walking, took a few deep breaths to calm myself, and asked God for specific directions. What came to my mind was to walk towards the main street nearest where I was. It didn’t matter if I knew the name, just head in that direction. I found “Brooks” on the sign and began to rejoice. I recognized the name, though I still didn’t know which way to go on Brooks, of course. I thought I should turn right but, as I did, I began feeling a huge lump of unease form in my stomach. Hmmm, okay, well left then. With each step I took, I began to feel better. Soon, I was even walking faster and nearly skipping with joy. I was on my way back to the dorm; I just knew it was the right way now. For the rest of the way to the sighting of that tall building, I followed the impressions to turn right or left. I had to get the security guard to break the rule just a bit to let me in so early in the morning, but I probably looked like the story I told him was true. He had mercy on me.
Elisa*? She came back sometime during the morning to retrieve her bag. The next time I saw her, she was one of my patients on the Surgical Floor. I was working as a Nurses Aid for the summer in 1969—nearly two years later. Her young face looked like railroad tracks gone amuck, so full of black silk thread stitches from a car-train accident. There was some internal damage, as well. She told me that she had taken marijuana and found herself stopping on the tracks of a railroad crossing because she was mesmerized by the headlight on its front. Had she been totally on the track, she would have died. Instead, she was just torn up badly in the collision of train to car. I cared for her while she was a patient and visited her at her parents’ home after she was discharged from the hospital. I lost contact with her following her recovery.
As for me, I never forgot this scary, dark night and just how I came to be alone and lost for hours, while the rest of the city slept. How grateful I am that God did, indeed, have His eyes upon me, as the Bible says. I cried out to Him, both in repenting and in pleading for His help to get me back safely. He heard me, forgave me and led me home. There is no doubt in my mind that God cares about us! He is our Heavenly Father, not just the Almighty God, Creator of everything in this universe!
*Name has been changed.
If you missed the start of this story, here’s the link:
Reference is made to Sojourner’s early years with God. Here are a couple of links to give you a bit more detail: (start of the series)
****First-Year University: Guys… Coming Tomorrow (weather permitting)