I am home from an awesome weekend with the ladies of Eutawville, SC (and surrounding areas). We spent the weekend in beautiful Valle Crucis, NC at the Valle Crucis Conference Center. Over 100 ladies converged on that place for a weekend of worship and refreshment. We literally had a mountaintop experience! I got to speak four times and was blessed by the dynamic young worship leader, Lanae Hale. She has a very cool sound and played a concert for us on Saturday night that was part music, part testimony. We were all very blessed by her story of learning how much God loves her and how far His grace reached into her life. The ladies from this weekend were all very special and they have earned a place in my heart forever. I will never forget our time together! If you are visiting here after this weekend, thanks for stopping by and please keep in touch with me! I hated saying goodbye to you all!!
I left the retreat center after lunch yesterday about 1:30, intending to be home no later than 4:00. It was a beautiful day and the drive ahead seemed like it would be uneventful. I chatted on the phone with my husband and my friend Lisa, who spent the weekend with me at the retreat but had to leave early Sunday to be back home. I called to make sure she made it and when I hung up, I realized I had left clothes she had given me for my daughter back at the conference center. I was about 30 minutes away from the conference center by then, and everyone had left. I really hated the idea of turning around and going back-- but I also wanted to get those clothes that Lisa had been so sweet to bring us. So, I turned around. As I did, I got the distinct impression that this interruption was for a purpose. This helped me not to have a bad attitude as I trusted God and felt that perhaps He was protecting me with this delay.
I drove back to the conference center and the place was deserted. I didn't see the clothes sitting where I had left them. "Oh please Lord, don't let me have driven all the way back here for nothing!" I prayed. I drove down to another building to see if I could find anyone, but there was no one there. The place was deserted completely and it felt terribly lonely to see it that way when just hours before it had been filled with so much life. I drove back up to where the clothes were and parked for a second praying, "Please, please, please let the clothes be there." I looked up and someone had moved the clothes up under a covered porch onto a bench. Hallelujah! I was glad I hadn't come back for nothing. I loaded up the clothes into the back of my van and set out again. I thanked God that I had gotten the clothes I came for, and I thanked Him for whatever the purpose of this delay had been. I would soon find out.
I drove for as long as I could, but knew that I would need to stop for gas. I wanted to find a stop that had a Wendy's and a gas station in the same place so I could grab a large sweet tea for my ride. About an hour down the road, I found the place I was looking for and stopped, then it was back on the road and headed for home. I was an hour behind schedule, and anxious to get home. I enjoyed having my Ipod with me so I could listen to music I love while I drove. I immersed myself in some David Crowder, reviewing the weekend in my mind and thanking God for what He had done, while asking Him to continue working in the women's lives. It was not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
About an hour outside of Charlotte, I noticed something on the other side of the highway flying through the air. It took my mind a second to register that that something was a car. I watched in horror as the car was airborn, then hit the ground, only to flip and become airborn again, then finally come skidding to a stop. Dust and debris was flying around in the air as I drove up to the scene. People on both sides of the highway had slowed and the scene was surreal. Some people drove on. Others pulled over and stopped. I didn't know what to do. I felt God nudging me. "Get out and pray." I pulled over, parked my car, and joined the few others who were running towards the car. I have never witnessed an accident, and had never been someone who was first on the scene. In that moment, I knew exactly why my earlier delay had happened. I had a purpose in being there. I wasn't a medical professional, but I know the Great Physician personally!
I will never forget walking up to that car-- the smell of burning rubber, the glass scattered all over the highway. The car had come to a stop upside down, and the roof was completely crushed. To look at that car, you would have thought that there was no way the person inside would be okay. I feared the worst as three nurses and one trained paramedic who "just so happened" to be driving by ran to the car and those of us who had no medical training stood by and watched. I feared what they were going to find until I heard someone say, "We got her out. Was there anyone else in the car?" I think they feared someone could have been thrown.
As I waited, I surveyed the damage. There were cd's scattered all over the road, an umbrella, some pieces of mail. The normal things we keep in our car, yet they looked so out of place scattered on this stretch of highway. And then, miraculously, just beside the car, I saw a Bible. I heard God's voice urging me: She is one of mine. Go and pray with her. I was scared to death as to what I would see when I walked around that car to where the woman was with the nurses working on her. I didn't know that I could handle what I would see but I went. I stooped down to where they were gathered and asked, "Has anyone prayed with her?" There was silence for a moment and then someone answered, "No." I knelt down beside the bleeding, stunned woman. "Ma'am?" I asked. "Can I pray for you?"
She nodded, then turned to look at me, blood running down her face. "Yes, please. Please," she said. I laid my hands on her and began to pray out loud. Before I knew it, other people were laying their hands on her and praying. One woman agreed with me aloud. The whole scene-- the smell, the sounds, the voices-- all melted away as I felt the presence of God in that place. It was truly one of the most amazing moments of my life. After I finished praying, I knew that it was time for me to head home to my family. A policeman arrived, and I could hear the wail of the approaching sirens. Though I wanted to stay with her all the way to the hospital, I sensed that was not why I was there and I had accomplished my specific purpose at that scene.
As I walked away, God reminded me of the shirt I was wearing-- a tee shirt commemorating the retreat I had just been to. In large white letters on the back, it stated the theme of our weekend, "He knows your name." I was reminded of an earlier moment as I looked from the back of the conference at all those shirts and wondered what person out in the world would be comforted by this truth as these ladies traveled home. In that moment, I felt God whisper: That will be important for you later today. I had no idea in what way God would use that shirt, but I hope that as I walked past the witnesses who were marveling over this woman surviving the accident that they would realize that God indeed did know her name and save her life. Only God could orchestrate the events of the day the way He did. Though I still don't know that woman's name, He does. And I know without a doubt that He had His hand upon her, just as He does all of us.