An elderly woman at my church wanted to host a tea party at her house. The party was her way of thanking all the women at our church who helped her after her husband passed away. I offered to bring an assortment of teas and a large hot water pot for brewing.
She called me almost every day to ask how to set up the tables, what foods to prepare, and how to serve a large group. I suggested different options for her to choose from. This is when I learned she swore a lot, every sentence spoken with cuss words. It shocked me at first. I had never heard an elderly woman at church talk like that. The more I talked with her, the more it escalated, and the more uncomfortable I became. I no longer wanted to go to her tea party, but I couldn't back out, I was bringing the tea.
On the day of the tea party I was the first to arrive at her house. I left my purse locked in the car and carried in the tea, hot water pot, and my car keys. I set my keys on a tall stool at the end of the kitchen counter. It was warm inside so I took off my sweater and set it on the stool on top of my keys.
As the guests arrived, the elderly woman gave tours of her home and art studio. I didn't know she was an artist so I followed the other guests down the hall. As she spoke about her house, her artwork, and family, she peppered her sentences with cuss words. I could tell the other women from my church were also uncomfortable. They each excused themselves from her studio until I alone was with her.
I had finally had enough of her cursing myself and asked her, "Why do you cuss all the time?"
To which she replied, "To shock the churchy ladies. I just want to shock them out of being such goody goods."
It was intentional? Remember, these are the ‘good' women who helped her after her husband died. That's when I realized the Spirit of God was not in her even though she went to church. Her actions were mean-spirited and unthankful. Repulsed by it, I planned to leave her tea party as soon as possible.
One guest arrived late and had a difficult time finding a place to park on the steep road next her house. She accidentally backed her car into a deep drainage ditch. I offered to call AAA to tow her out but my keys were no longer on the stool under my sweater. I needed my keys to unlock my car to get the AAA card in my purse. Since I was no help, someone else called a tow truck as I frantically looked elsewhere for my car keys. Unable to find my keys I second-guessed myself and thought I locked them in the car. After the tow truck driver pulled my friend's car out of the ditch he kindly unlocked my car. But searching my car and purse my keys were not in there.
I went back inside and sat at one of the small tables. I started to quietly pray asking God to help me find my keys. I felt God tell me He had taken my keys and hid them. I became angry and in my mind I started arguing with God. I told Him I was uncomfortable being there and wanted to leave as early as possible. I wanted to know why He took my keys. I felt like He was telling me, "I want you to wash her dishes." In my mind I argued back at that thought, "No, I don't want to, I want to leave. Don't make me wash her dishes." Another thought came to mind, "Wash her dishes or I won't give you your keys."
My friend across the table noticed I was upset and asked if I was all right. I told her I was arguing with God. Being a very Spiritual person, so replied, "God always wins." I knew she was right.
I don't recall much about the party, except the numerous times I got up to see if my keys were on the stool under my sweater. We ate, drank tea, and the elderly woman told stories about her late husband. As her guests began to leave, I wanted to leave too. I wanted to be at home with my kids, but there was something God wanted me to do first.
Checking one last time for my keys on the stool under my sweater without success, I began washing her dishes. She was busy clearing tables and removing table clothes. As I looked around, there was no one else there. No other women stayed to help her clean up afterward. I didn't blame them; they probably felt as I did. Seeing her clearing tables by herself made me feel sorry for her. She went to church, she heard the word of God, and she witnesses these women help her in her time of need. Yet she harbored a mean spirit towards them. Her mean spirit drove them off and left her alone.
With a load of table clothes in her arms, she came and stood next to me and asked, "Why are you washing my dishes?"
What came out of my mouth were not my own words, for I would have said something totally different. Instead, the Holy Spirit took control of my mouth and out came the words, "Because Jesus loves you."
She didn't reply but just walked away. I kept washing the dishes, and when I was finished, I found my keys under my sweater on the stool where I originally set them. I can’t explain how this happened, but I do know why. God had a message for the elderly woman. He wanted her to know He loved her.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13
This is a story from my new book coming out soon, titled
"Meant To Be Shared - True Stories of God's Presence in the Life of an Ordinary Person."
The book is a compilation of true stories where God made Himself known. It's my prayer these stories will encourage you in your faith or convince you there's a loving God who is active in people's lives.