I dangled upside down, watching a back tire of the flatbed trailer revolve. What a way to end a hay-ride. We were a small mob of thirteen year old girls, too young to worry about looking cool. Our chaperone drove the tractor as we commenced a brawling, giggling hay fight. A big plop of straw hit me in the back. Losing my balance, I tumbled over the side.
My friend, Carolyn, jumped into action. She grabbed my ankles just as my head moved toward the underside of the trailer. With a giant heave, she swung me away from the edge. I bounced a couple of times on the dusty field, and rolled down a hill. “She’s dead,” I heard as I lay on the ground.
Embarrassed,yes. Dead, no. I was bruised and sore for a few days, but alive, thanks to my friend’s quick actions. I hadn’t planned to exit life in the middle of an autumn hay ride. I would have without Carolyn.
She rescued me a second time eleven years later. I was upside down again, this time emotionally. I watched helpless as life gyrated outside of my control. Tired of my own stupidity, I couldn’t find the cure.
I was a waitress that summer at the Country Kitchen restaurant in Kingdom City, Missouri. Lake travelers arrived early in the morning. They needed coffee, required immediate biscuits and gravy, and were impatient to begin the fun. That night they showed up again, sunburned, exhausted and grumpy. As their server I was either an angel bringing rest and refreshment, or a derelict scullery maid. I never knew which.
One afternoon I looked up from a state trooper’s cup of coffee. There was Carolyn. She hugged me and we made plans for dinner. That night I listened while she talked.
“Laurel, Wisdom waits for you to call. He is a Person. His name is Jesus. He is God and He loves you. He’ll give you a new beginning, but you have to ask,” she said.
Ask a holy God? What would He want with me? Peace filled my car and saturated my soul as I drove home that night. Buzzards of regret and torment retreated as I thought about God, a Person, waiting for me.
My knowledge of Him had been limited to emergency appeals. God, if You’ll get me out of this mess, I’ll…. Well, that was hardly a relationship. I hadn’t kept my end of those plea bargains. Why would He care now?
So I prayed. “Jesus, if You are real and if You are waiting for me, I say,‘Yes’. ‘Yes’ to You – to all You are. I’m tired of my own way. Please help me not be stupid anymore.” It was a simple prayer. But He heard. I knew He did because I had a friend who promised He would.
Long ago a young woman named Mary needed a friend, too. Her life turned upside down when an angel came to visit. The angel spoke only a few words, only a glimpse into the plan from heaven. It was big, too big to understand. What should she do? She ran to her friend, Elizabeth.
I didn’t know anything about a walk with God. But Carolyn, like Elizabeth, gave me a safe place. She helped me learn about God and His purposes. She knew I carried a divine treasure, too. It was in baby form and needed care and protection. But it would grow with lots of love and wisdom. It would become a blessing to others.
What a simple message. We are either a Mary or an Elizabeth. We allow someone to unveil His goodness, or we point the way to Him, the Friend Himself. Carolyn stuck around long enough to make sure the treasure in me came to full-term. The power of a God-kind of friend doesn’t end with one person. Generations are shaped and nations transformed by the love of one outstretched hand.