A dear friend of ours agreed to drive her grandson to a town a couple of hours away so he could catch a bus. He had finished his basic training as a Marine and was now to report to his new duty station. At eighteen he hadn’t really decided what part of the Christian faith he was ready to embrace so on the drive Gram subtly sought to help him know how much Jesus loved him.
When they arrived at the Greyhound station Gram learned that there were two other Marine recruits travelling on the same bus this day headed for the same base. Normally she would say a prayer for her grandson and give him a hug as he grabbed his gear and headed for the bus. But this time she sensed God may have a bigger assignment for her. She followed His nudge.
As the bus sat idling in the loading zone she approached and tapped on the door. She had a question for the driver. Would it be ok if she were to board the bus and pray with some of his passengers? First time he had ever been asked that question, but he agreed. So Gram boarded and began walking down the aisle. It wasn’t hard to identify the young Marine recruits. Sharp. All about the same age. And it was obvious they had all been to the same barber who specialized in buzz cuts.
As she approached where they were sitting she engaged them. Are you pretty excited? First time away from home? By now most of the other passengers were dialed in to what was happening. They were watching a lovely red-haired grandma who was obviously on a mission.
She spoke to one of the guys: “Tough to be leaving home?” she inquired. He replied, “I just got married two days ago and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done to leave her standing on the porch as I drove away.” Across the aisle the other GI spoke up, “My wife just delivered our first baby a few days ago and now I have to leave her to go through that all by herself…It’s tough.”
Gram put her hands on the shoulders of the two Marines and prayed for them and for her grandson. It was a prayer of blessing, a prayer of hope, a prayer from the heart of a surrogate mom. Almost an anointing. The bus was quiet. Tears don’t make much noise. Gram said her amen, hugged all three Marines, and exited the bus. But it was not the same as when she had entered.
Prayer is one way we care. Prayer is for church but not just for church. Prayer is for beside our bedside at night, but not just beside the bed. Prayer is for wherever God taps us on the shoulder and says, “Now!” How were the life trajectories of that busload of people changed that day? Who can know. But it wouldn’t surprise me if one day in the kingdom someone approaches Gram and says, “Do you remember when you prayed on a bus one day in Asheville? Let me tell you what happened to me…”
By Don Jacobsen