My dear sweet friend R told me I should write this down so my girls have it later. So I thought I'd make it official and post it here because perhaps it might encourage someone else who's wondering if God is listening. He is.
When I was 20, I had signed up to go on a missions trip to Brazil with my college. Granted, I am no longer 20 and this is not a current event. But, the story is, I believe, an important one about God.
I had been diagnosed with a nasty case of mono during the spring of that year. It was running rampant through the campus that spring, and since I catch every nasty virus, why not add this one to my collection. I was pretty sick and my trip was in jeopardy.
So my team leaders laid out some pretty strict standards for me. I had to ask for help. I had to take help when it was offered. And, I couldn't exert myself. These were hard for me.
We had an intense week of training and team building before we left. The last full day was Solo Day. This was a day devised to place each member in a specific place, by herself, for 8 hours. That 8 hours was to be spent in solitude and silence, hanging out with Jesus.
It just so happened that this particular spring was an El Nino spring. It rained for days and weeks and months. This particular week was no different. And Solo Day was a deluge of Noah proportions. The forecast was for inches of rain.
My health necessitated some accommodations. So my leaders put me in a school van in the gravel parking lot next to the pond. The pond was about a quarter mile from the campus proper (we had a small campus). This parking lot also played host to a gazebo. They left me in the van with some blankets, some water, and a sleeping bag. I also had my Bible, a journal, and a letter my leaders wrote for me.
It was pouring.
I noticed, though, that in the gazebo, my friend Paul, who was part of a team going to China (It should be noted that this particular spring, my college was sending 20 different teams out into the world so this was a busy week), was sentenced to spend Solo Day in the gazebo in the elements. He had nothing but a jacket.
Here I was in my quasi-cozy van with a jacket, a blanket, and a sleeping bag. He was in the cold and wet and while maybe he wasn't being rained directly on, he was sure victim to the sideways rain when the wind kicked in.
I had quandary Number One. I had been told, in no uncertain terms, that I was to, under no circumstance, leave the van. My health depended on it. My trip depended on it. My team was depending on it. The van was the extent of my physical existence and to leave the van would be risking the wrath of the powers that be.
I am a rule follower. I do not like getting in trouble. I do not like disappointing people.
But my friend was sitting in the rain which would make an 8 hour solo day feel like 88 hours. I had a sleeping bag I didn't need.
So I honked the horn to get his attention since I couldn't very well roll down the window and holler at him because we had taken a vow of silence.
He looked over. I opened the door and held up the sleeping bag. His eyes got really, really big as he realized what I was offering. He ran over and grabbed it, gave me a grateful look and ran back to the gazebo.
We each had been left with some water but also exhorted to be careful how much we drank. Me, specifically, since there was no restroom even remotely close, I didn't have the keys to the van to drive back to the dorms, and I had been given strict direction to not leave the van because it was raining so hard.
I took three sips of water. That's it. Three. Remember? I'm a rule follower.
I took a little snooze. I spent some time in the Word and journaling.
And the rain came down.
And then, quandary Number Two. I had to pee. I would use more appropriate language, but it doesn't capture the tension, or the urgency, of my situation. At all.
One minute I was fine. The next minute, I had to pee. Like I-hadn't-peed-in-24 hours-and-drank-14-gallons-of-water-my-bladder's-gonna-burst-I-might-have-an-accident kind of pee. I would say I was making good use of hyperbole here, but I'm not. I'm telling the truth.
I asked God to make me not have to pee.
I tried sleeping, hoping that might take my mind off it.
I tried shifting positions.
I begged God to fix my bladder.
He did not answer that prayer exactly.
I only had to pee more. If that was even possible.
And the rain came down.
I was starting to lose my mind because all I could think about was having to pee. And not having anywhere to pee. And the rain continued to fall in sheets. And I was freaking out in my blue school van in the parking lot next to the pond.
I came to the realization that One: I was going to have to leave the van to pee. Or I would pee my pants. And Two: I needed to figure out a way to stay dry so I could stay warm so I could stay healthy given I had several more hours to spend in the van before I got picked up, and I really didn't want to disappoint anyone.
So I prayed for God to stop the rain. I admit, it was sort of a Hail Mary, last ditch effort, kind of prayer. I was really, really hoping He would hear but not really counting on it because, let's face it, He has a lot to deal with and I was just one little girl sitting in an old blue van in a gravel parking lot next to a pond during a really heavy rainstorm, who also had to pee. It's not like that was at the top of anyone's priority list except mine.
It was not the kind of rain that was going to stop. It had been raining for 36 hours non-stop. Sheets of rain, waves of rain, buckets of rain, rivers of rain. I had my doubts, but I was really hoping that God would have mercy so I could avoid an embarrassing situation should I pee my pants or an uncomfortable one should I get cold and wet and sick again. I was really hoping that in the busyness of His day, He might catch the desperate prayer of a desperate girl in a somewhat desperate situation and grant me five minutes of His all Sovereign time.
I prayed for God to stop the rain. For five minutes. I figured I could cross the street to a more secluded (there was a boy in the gazebo so I needed a little seclusion), hilly area and take care of business and get back to the van in five minutes. I was desperate. I was so desperate.
And I squatted next to the side door of the van with my nose pressed against the glass as I kept praying over and over for God to make the rain stop so I could pee. My eyes lifted towards the heavens.
And I sat in awestruck wonder as the rain started to lessen. The endless drumming drone of the rain on the roof of the van was suddenly quieter. They sky lightened a touch. The rain continued to lighten until it was just a rain shower, then a sprinkle, then a mist. Then. Nothing. At all.
The rain had stopped.
And I sat in the van with my jaw hanging down to my feet and my eyes as big as saucers and my heart was beating so loud I could hear it in my ears. Because I couldn't believe what I just witnessed. And I sat there dumbfounded.
Until I felt a little nudge on my shoulder and a little voice in my head, "Girl, get going. Your five minutes is ticking."
Oh, yeah. Five minutes to pee. He was giving me five minutes to pee because He knew I was trying to take care of myself. He knew I had few viable options that would satisfy my leaders who had made their expectations abundantly clear. He knew that He was my only option. And because He's a Good Father, of course He answered.
I shouldn't have been so surprised. But I was. Little old me sitting in a decrepit blue van and the King, the Lord, of Everything reached out His hand like an umbrella, used His thumb and His index finger to part the curtain directly over me and my blue van, to shield me from the rain so I could stay dry.
I slammed open the side door of the van and scampered across the street until I found a secluded, semi-private spot to take care of business. I did. I knew I had wasted a precious few seconds with my jaw hanging open so I had no time to waste. Just as I was scampering back across the street, the sky darkened and I felt a sprinkle of rain on my forehead. I jumped into the van and just as I slammed that door shut, sealing myself again in the safety and warmth of the van, the skies opened up.
And the rain came down.
And I sat there. In my van. And grinned.
Because He saw me. He heard me. And He made the rain stop.
Grace Always Rises,
P.S. Sweet sister-friends, I am linked up today with Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and Holley Gerth at Coffee for your Heart. Join me for some encouragement.