Friday, November 18, 2011

Stranger's Door

Would you knock on a stranger's door?

I was a freshman in college when I took a storytelling night class. One of our end of the semester projects, around Christmas time, was to go to two nursing homes and use our storytelling skills to share some holiday cheer. The first one was in Santa Cruz, a place even less familiar at night. I got thoroughly lost, especially when our teacher's directions were wrong and I had no GPS. I knocked on a stranger's door. I ended up in what I thought was a nice looking neighborhood, and knocked at the door of the one house with its lights on. Well, I used the doorbell actually. I heard children playing inside. The dad answered the door. I told him the address of the place I was going to, and surprisingly, he said the name of the nursing home. He knew exactly where it was. He gave me directions, I thanked him, he bid me good night, I left, I drove, and I still got lost.

Yep. The man was helpful, and what are the chances I would knock at the door of the stranger who knew exactly how to get to my destination? God sent? Possibly. Too bad I never had a good head for directions. Thankfully, many other students got lost and the professor didn't count our absence against us.

~~~

A woman knocked on our door today. She was shaking, seemingly from crying, and she asked to use the phone.

"My husband is chasing me," she said. "Please can I use your phone? Last week he hit me on the forehead with a chair. He hit my knee. I can't walk straight. He usually don't come around this area. I feel weird knocking on a house I don't know, but he's coming. Please, I just need to use your phone."

"I can't let you in," I said, "but you can use the phone." Thank You God for cordless phones.

It took her a while to remember the number of her friend.

"Maybe you should call the cops," I offered.

"No, not yet," she said. She fumbled with the numbers on the phone. Her ears perked up. "I think that's his truck. What's her number? I was just there."

She finally dialed, asked to be picked up and driven to Monica's house, and gave directions on where she was.

"Are you sure you'll be safe walking?" I asked.

"Yes, thank you."

She turns to leave. I point to the ground. "You dropped your lighter."

"Oh. I'm such a mess. Thank you. Thank you," she said and left.

A minute later, our phone rings.

"Can I speak to Elena?" asked a male caller.

"Sorry, wrong number," I said.

"It's the woman who just called using your phone," he said.

"Oh. She's not here anymore."

"Okay," he said. "Be careful with her. She's on drugs. That's why I'm trying to get her situated, but...."

"Oh, okay."

"Okay, thanks," he said and hung up.

Would you knock on a stranger's door? Would you open your door to a stranger?
On one hand, it could be a divine appointment. On the other, you could get roped into possible domestic and/or substance abuse. Which, some could argue, is a divine appointment of its own: God sending you someone who really needs help, one way or another. But are we prepared to give that kind of help? Because ladies and gents, with those kinds of issues, prayer is not enough. It requires action from the right kinds of people like drug counselors or the police. And I wonder how many churches are prepared for that kind of action, how many can give prayer and the right kind of help?

Because someone might come knocking on our doors.

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