The girl had been abandoned by her friends in the back seat of a car outside the local McDonald's on a cold winter night. She was so intoxicated from the party she'd attended that her speech was slurred and she couldn't sit upright. She was only 17.
Our 16-year-old daughter had been at the restaurant with her own circle of friends, and she recognized the girl. She went outside and sat with her until the boy who owned the car said he needed to get home. Some suggested they just bring the girl inside and leave her in a corner booth. No one really wanted to get involved.
"Bring her to my house," our daughter said. "I'll look after her."
She convinced the others to transport the girl to our home. And as several cars converged in our driveway, our daughter came in and asked if her best friend could stay the night. We agreed. Could another friend we barely knew also stay? Again, we agreed.
So two boys walked in with the slumping form of the girl between them, slid her onto the couch, and left.
The girl's parents were out for the night. My husband and I realized this situation needed special, thoughtful care, and we began praying for guidance. The thought that came to me was: "Wait, be alert, and do whatever is required of you."
Twenty minutes later, the girl began screaming uncontrollably.
The things that came together that night might be viewed as improbable coincidences. That the girl was not left alone but was found and looked after by our daughter was the first event. That the girl's mother would call on her cellphone at the exact moment we were about to call an ambulance was another. That we were able to get her to the emergency room faster than 911 could have responded. That the cellphone rang again with the friend who had been at the party so the mother could find out what her daughter had consumed.
It was a long time to be in an emergency room with a family we'd never met. It was not a time to talk, but rather to wait and pray.
I've discovered that prayer doesn't change God. God, I've come to appreciate, is the divine Principle, Love. Our prayers can't make this unwavering, constant Love more loving or caring or attentive. Prayer isn't about changing God. It's about changing us - our attitudes, our perspectives, our expectations. It moves us from fear and doubt to trust and confidence in the nature of God and God's all-powerful love.
I let my prayer take me to where I could see how much God loved this girl. God's love could look past the graphic picture of a teen engaged in illegal drinking and see a "daughter of light" to be loved and cared for eternally.
A deep calm began to quiet my anxious thoughts. It was as if God were whispering to me: "See what I'm seeing. Stand in My light. Look at how beautiful My children are."
I was feeling God's grace. I was gaining a deeper understanding of what unwavering Love is and how it holds each of us true to our original status as children of that Love. This girl was forever innocent. That drove away my fear and fatigue. It wrapped those around us in kindness and comfort.
Grace became the theme of the night for me. It wasn't blind coincidence that moved that girl from abandonment to full care and love. It was God's penetrating grace. At each step, her needs had been met. Starting with our daughter, each of us filled our role in her safe return to her parents.
When the girl was finally out of danger, we left the hospital and went home. The next morning, we returned from church to find a voicemail message from the girl's mother, thanking us for looking after her daughter and especially for what our daughter did.
We asked our daughter what prompted her to get involved. She said that she just couldn't have left this girl behind. Something inside her told her to bring her home. That something, I'm sure, was God's love.
The miracle of grace
is no miracle to Love.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of Christian Science)