I heard her weeping and didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t exactly a convenient time for a divine appointment. After all, I was in the middle of a busy workday and had only run to the restroom for a few necessary moments. As I was heading back to my desk, I faced a choice.
I like to write about the working and activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian believer on the road of everyday life. My blog posts and books aim to help others become more “tuned-in” to God’s voice and inner promptings, whether at work, school, the grocery store, or out for a walk with their dog. I love to help others look for God in everyday circumstances and to touch those around them with just a little bit of His hope and love wherever they go. As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” In the course of my own life, I try to be aware of such opportunities to share the hope I have in Christ with others. Sometimes I use words, sometimes not. Those moments in time become little snapshots of God-encounters.
It was within that context that I found myself in the public women’s restroom of a skyscraper in the bustling downtown of the large city in which I work. You see, I am a bi-vocational Minister of the Gospel. Like Paul ( the writer of 2/3 of the New Testament), I work in the marketplace but also teach God’s Word to others. Paul made tents to support his practical needs and I work as an independent contractor. I serve on teams conducting forensic and legal review of documents in large litigation matters in the “e-discovery” business. I was trained as a lawyer (also like the apostle Paul, who was trained in law prior to his conversion, coincidentally). It has been a flexible, practical way to get back into the marketplace after some years focusing on full-time parenting, simultaneous ministry training, and writing my first two Christian books. Believe it or not, God likes lawyers too! I use those skills to help meet my family’s needs and support my own ministry endeavors.
So it was on an otherwise ordinary workday when I encountered a woman weeping audibly in a bathroom stall in the public ladies restroom near my workplace. I heard someone else (similarly situated behind an adjacent bathroom stall door) ask her if she needed help, to which she emphatically replied, “No!” Proceeding out for a quick coffee, I prayed for her. Silently, I asked, “God, if I should go back and say something to her please let me know.” She was obviously greatly distressed and I didn’t want to invade her privacy but felt prompted to at least whisper a quick prayer seeking God’s guidance. As I returned, cup in hand, toward my workplace, I had a clear inner-sense that I should stop back and see if she was still there. So I did.
The woman was still weeping loudly on the floor behind the locked door of the larger, end bathroom stall. Now, to the guys reading this who think this is probably normal, let me assure you it’s not. I’ve been in plenty of public women’s restrooms, lived in women’s-only dorms, a sorority house, dressed in the women’s locker rooms of more than a few gyms over the years and served as a women’s pastor at a church. Never have I encountered another woman audibly sobbing like this in a public place! All I could see were her legs, shoes, and the bottom of her skirt.
Taking a risk, I simply said, “I am a Christian and I like to pray for others, would you like me to pray for you?” (Remember that someone else had previously asked her if she needed help and she had declined, in no uncertain terms.) To my surprise, she said, “Yes!” So, right there in the restroom, coffee in hand, I prayed a simple prayer out loud for her. (Other women were present in the restroom as well.) I simply asked God to bless, protect, and comfort her. I asked that she would sense His love and peace, in Jesus’s name. She thanked me. I then sensed a release from the Holy Spirit and knew that my itty-bitty “mission” for God was complete. I trusted that God would touch her soul at that difficult moment of her life. I never saw her again (or at least didn’t recognize her shoes), but knew that God would work through my unexpected, restroom prayer time.
How about you? Can you ask God to use you on the road of your everyday life? I’ll bet he will, if you only ask him to.