The kids were down for the night and my wife was sewing when I wandered into the craft room. “I don’t know what to make of this,” she told me, “but for the past hour Paulette’s been heavy on my mind. I’ve been praying for her.”
Why, I wondered, had Paulette come to my wife’s mind? Paulette and her husband had lived with us a couple of months the previous year when otherwise they would have been homeless. They had since moved to Arizona, and we hadn’t heard from them for months. They had no phone and we didn’t know their address.
Since we had no way to contact them, my wife went on sewing and praying, and I went back downstairs. A half hour later, the phone rang. It was Paulette.
“I’m at the airport,” she said. “Can you take me to my motel?” I glanced at the time. It was 11.
Paulette said her husband had kicked her out and put her on the plane. She was seven months pregnant and had money for one or two nights’ motel. “We’ll come get you,” I said, “and you can spend the night with us.”
Once I’d hung up, I asked, “Should we invite her to stay here till she can get her own place?” Under normal circumstances, our answer would have been an easy yes. We were the closest thing Paulette had to caring family. But our circumstances were hardly normal.
My job had ended five months earlier. For five months, in answer to prayer, God had met our basic needs, but with little to spare. Did we dare take in someone else when we didn’t even have money for next week’s groceries?
As I wavered between wanting to help and being afraid of not having enough, something–maybe the hands on the clock–reminded me of Jesus’ parable of the friend at midnight. In the parable, even though his cupboard was bare, a man took in a friend who was traveling through. Why? Because he had a neighbor to whom he knew he could go–even at midnight–to get bread for his friend (Luke 11:5-13).
So we decided to invite Paulette to stay a while, not because we could provide for her, but because of our Rich Neighbor. With God as our source, we could afford to be generous. My wife picked up Paulette from the airport, returning about twelve.
Paulette would stay with us five months. During those months no one in our family would drew a steady paycheck, and we often had to ask our Rich Friend for bread. Time after time we would marvel, and Paulette would marvel, to see our Rich Neighbor come through with bread for our family. And, of course, for our friend who came at midnight.
Have you ever agreed to help someone, though you didn’t know how you could afford it, because you knew you could trust your Rich Friend?