As a friend lamented her estranged son’s absence, I remembered a time when I had protected someone else’s child. I promised to pray for the same help for my friend’s son.
Years ago I was in Jerusalem’s Old City, marveling at the narrow stone streets where tiny shops displayed spices, goat meat, camel rugs and wood carvings. Ahead of me was a young Palestinian mother cradling a baby in her left arm while she steered a little boy about three with her right hand. Even though her gray-green dress and white headscarf announced a different culture, I thought of earlier days of shopping with my two little ones.
Then a collective groan went up as people flattened against walls as a garbage tractor inched forward. The streets already were crowded. How was the driver going to get the vehicle through?
But I moved with the crowd, muttering meaningless English “Sorrys” as we flattened ourselves—four deep on each side—against the storefronts and each other. The tractor’s oversized tires were only millimeters away.
Suddenly someone was kicking my ankles. The little son of the Palestinian mother was trying to fight past me–and into the path of the tractor. I grabbed his shoulder and looked to where I last had seen his mother. She, like the rest of us, was trapped against the wall and holding the baby up to keep the child from being crushed. But while she was protecting one, her eyes were darting over the crowd for the other who had been separated in the pushing.
Still gripping her son’s shoulder with one hand, I waved to her with the other while the child kicked my ankles for all he was worth.
“He’s here. I have him!” I shouted.
Her bewildered stare told me she didn’t understand English, and all of us were pressed too tightly for me to pick up the child. All I could do was point down and nod, hoping she understood her son was safe.
At last, with the tractor past, I steered the child to his anxious mother. As he recognized her skirt, he clutched it, sobbing with relief. I touched his dark hair and looked into his mother’s brown misty eyes as she nodded her thanks.
I wanted to tell her about my own two children. I wanted to tell her I understood. But we merely looked at one another through tear-filled eyes. I touched her little boy’s head once more and slipped back into the throng.
I had been there for that child during a crisis. And I would pray someone would be there for my friend’s son as well.
(An excerpt from Heart Hugs for Single Moms: 52 Devotions to Encourage You)