I knew Sunday was going to be a busy day. After worship we were having dress rehearsal for Christmas Eve’s 4:00 p.m. service. Then, from noon until 1:00 p.m. I was hosting “Drive-up Communion” in our front parking lot. After that I would drive home, change my clothes, and Monica and I would hop in the van for a quick trip to the funeral home in Frankenmuth. Afterwards we would visit a little with her sister and brother-in-law and then return home.
Knowing that I would have to hustle from the rehearsal to be ready to serve communion at noon, I placed everything together in the gym lobby, ready for a quick set up. Linda had done much prep prior to Sunday, so it was mostly just the last minute things that I had to do. I was so organized, I even had my gloves, hat, scarf, and coat on a table next to it all.
Then, in the middle of the dress rehearsal, a volunteer from our clothing closet came to speak with me. I had left my cashmere coat a little too close to those being given away. While a person looking for a coat had initially been told which one was mine, in some confusion that followed, he had walked out wearing my coat.
Fortunately, the individual and his sister have been visiting STL for multiple months. I left the rehearsal to get my laptop and started searching for their contact information. Once that was found, I called the number we had and left a voicemail explaining the problem asking for an immediate call back. When the rehearsal ended without any further developments, I gave the number to the clothing closet volunteer and found an overcoat on the rack that fit me.
Somewhere in all this I realized that I had left both my car keys and my wallet in the pockets of my coat! Without the coat I could not drive home, and I would be without my license, credit cards, etc. You might say at this point the issue became a little more serious.
After repeated phone calls and messages with no progress, the volunteer offered to drive to the address we had and see if they were home. It is a multi-residence building, so many doorbells were pressed along with doors knocked. Still no response. They returned to STL to offer me a ride home, but by then Monica was driving from our home with a second set of keys.
While her second trip to STL delayed our drive to Frankenmuth by a few minutes, my car was safely home. Someone suggested I be sure to drive extra safe (since I had no license), but I quickly responded, “I always drive very safely.” I am not sure why some eyes rolled at that!
When we arrived back home (safely) a little after 8:00 p.m. we still had not heard anything. Monday morning I called again to no avail. So, I added a stop at their home to my morning running around. Again, there was no answer, so I left my card with the note “Please call me as soon as possible” in their mailbox.
I believe it was after 1:00 when my cell rang. It turns out I had a wrong phone number for them, and that none of the doorbell’s work. They had found my note – and it took about 2 seconds for them to figure out the mistake (He wondered who had left their car keys in his coat and had not even noticed the wallet).
Within the hour the sister arrived at STL with my coat. In our conversation I heard that they are going through some difficult times, so I offered them one of the Christmas Food baskets. As we hugged goodbye there were tears of gratitude in her eyes. “I cannot thank you enough for all this food,” she said.
Linda was the one who observed, “Now we know God’s plan in your coat being taken. They had a need we never would have known of. He wanted us to help them, and now they are helped.” The issue never really was the missing coat, the car keys, or the wallet! God was making sure that his people were being taken care of – both physical with the food and spiritually with a concrete example of what the Gospel is all about … a true Christmas story.
“For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3.17)