Woman Sleeping In A Hot Car
By Carolyn • October 30, 2023
We've been having a heat wave on the East Coast this summer, along with the rest of the U.S. So the absolute place you wouldn't want to be is sleeping in a hot car! That's what I thought when I saw a woman doing just that. Well, she wasn't asleep at the time, but I surmised that was her plight when I noticed that the inside of the car was piled high with her belongings from passenger seat to the back seats. I'd been noticing this car parked in the same space on this secluded lot for a few weeks.
I finally went over to the car and asked if I could get her something from the store nearby. She declined but at least I got a close enough look to see that she was sober, not on drugs, spoke English and was not in any immediate distress in spite of how it looked. This made me all the more curious. The woman said her name was Justine, supposedly. As we talked, darkness began to set in, so I told her I had to leave thinking I'd return another day. I started for home.
A week later, I was back shopping at a store near the lot and there was Justine in that car on a hot day! I had had enough. I went over to the car hoping to hear her story. That's the way God wired me. It's how all Christ followers should be wired. But I wonder how many would have simply passed by without stopping? I was there to help, not to judge or criticize.
When I think that Jesus never saw a need without stopping to heal, transform or deliver, his example sets the standard by which I should live my life. What if we all did that? How much better this world would be? How many more good deeds than bad would make headlines? There'd be so many acts of kindness, the media would have no choice but to switch the focus from the bad to the good.
By now, you are probably curious about Justine so let me return to her story. Naturally, I had a lot of questions for her to try to understand her situation, but my first inquiry was about her wellbeing and how I might help? She asked nothing of me even though it was obvious her need was great. She had no place to call home. She wouldn't leave her car because everything she owned was in it, she said. She knew about the shelter but didn't want to go there because there was no place to park her 2013 Prius. She is diabetic and had cans of tuna, peanut butter crackers, water and Oreo cookies visible beneath a pile of stuff on the passenger's side. I made all kinds of suggestions about finding employment, where to go to get out of the heat—you name it, I offered it. Finally, I asked, "So what's your plan." I needed to know. It was Ben Franklin who said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
I know she hadn't planned to be in the predicament she was in because it looked like she had made a quick getaway from something or had been thrown out of some place in a hurry. Nevertheless, she needed to have a plan for her comeback and she didn't. And that's when I told her my own story of being within a hair's breath of being in her shoes and what saved me. To be clear, I was never in a hot car piled high with stuff sleeping in a parking lot, but it took a long while for me to find my footing after my mother died.
So, I could relate to her on that level. Then I did the one thing that I knew made a difference for me. I prayed for her right there. Afterward, I left her side to go into the store. Inside the store I rounded up two more Christ followers I knew who worked there and enlisted them in praying for Justine as well. One was the pharmacist on duty that day. She prayed right then and there while a customer was waiting. Before I left the store, I grabbed some nuts, tuna and a hot chicken slider which the pharmacist said would be good for her to eat because of the protein. She seemed surprised when I handed the food to her. I also gave her my house phone number and a 'Back to Jesus' tract that I had written some time ago. Afterwards, we parted ways. A few days later, I went looking for Justine and her car wasn't there. I can only hope that's a positive sign.
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