I enjoyed the coat until mid February of the following year. It never crossed my mind that "the coat" would not always hang either on my shoulders on in my closet. But, the Lord had something much grander in mind.
My devotional that cold wintry morning was from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 30, it reads thus: Give to every one who asks of you and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. I spent some time running references on the verse and meditating on the Lord's directive and contemplating how I would apply this commandment. I lost track of time and when I looked at the clock I realized I was running late for an out of town appointment. I quickly gathered my materials, my purse and, yes, the now famous coat, and ran for the van. The strong North wind took my breath away as I hurriedly unlocked the car door and climbed inside. It was the start of a brisk, breezy and cloudy day in southeastern Oklahoma. I like diversity of weather patterns, but extreme cold is not high on my list. The wind chill factor on that day pushed the thermometer reading into the 30's . As I turned South on Hwy 69, I was determined to be on time for my appointment. About half-way into my very focused trek I noticed a woman walkingon the side of the road, with the traffic. I noticed her for several reasons: she was carrying a brown paper bag, like a grocery sack, she was wearing a dress without leggings or stockings and she did not have a coat on. I drove past her, my trip-set and cruise control obediently pushing me to remain on task. However, as I glanced in the rear-view mirror, compassion flooded my heart and my foot hit the break. Looking for a place to turn around, I wondered why in the world a woman would be out on the highway in near freezing temperatures without a coat. I pulled off the road on to the shoulder several yards in front of the female pilgrim. She walked toward the van and I opened the passenger side window. When she was parallel with the right side of the car door I shouted to her,"Ma'am, do you need a ride?" Without hesitating she opened the door and placed her sack in the floor-board of our Chevy van. She smiled rather sheepishly, but said nothing. I told her that I was only going another ten (10) miles in the southbound lane and then would be turning East. She just nodded her head. Accelerating back onto Hwy. 69, I noticed her hands were rough and her skin dry and parched like someone that has spent long hours working under the scorching sun. Her flimsy cotton dress was no match for the blustery North winds that were sweeping down the plains of our rural county. I tried to make small talk, but she did not seem inclined to conversation. So, I decided to ask the Lord just what my assignment was under the current circumstances...what I heard was this: "I want you to give her your coat."
Many times when we hear the Lord, so clear and so loud, we tend to dismiss the directive as coming from some "other" source. Was that really the Lord? I overrode the inner knowing and tried again to engage my guest with a simple dialogue. "Where are you going?" I asked. "South," was her reply. (obviously!) I held my peace and started looking for the exit ramp that would turn the vehicle eastward and bring my good deed for the day to an end. Turning on off Hwy 69 onto a smaller county road, I heard the Lord again. "I want you to give her your coat." This time I entered into a one-on-one with Jesus. "You mean the new coat I received as a gift from my parents? The beautiful coat that people admire so greatly? The coat I have on my back?" His answer: "Yes."
I looked for a place to stop before I was too far from the main thoroughfare. "There is a Quick-trip convenience store just a little way on the left. Would you like me to drop you there." She nodded in the affirmative. I pulled in front of the small concrete-block building and stopped, letting the motor and heater continue to run. "Is there anything else I can do for you?" She turned her head and looked around in the van. Then she softy asked, " Would you happen to have an extra coat?" Hmm. A coat. The only coat in the van was the one I was wearing. Oh, OK, Lord, I hear you. I slipped my arms out of the sleeves of my winter wrap and handed it to my guest. She looked surprised. "This is a beautiful coat, I've never had a coat like this....I can't, I shouldn't...." I interrupted her musings..."the Lord wants you to have the coat." She put the coat on and took my right hand at the same time asking if she could pray for me. This time I was the one nodding in the affirmative. When she began her prayer, she was neither quiet nor timid; raising her voice she began to speak in a language I could not decipher. I listened trying to put syllables together in Spanish, or French, or English...but nothing fit. Ah! I had a sudden revelation that this was a heavenly language, something unearthly and somewhat mysterious. As quickly as she began she stopped and the next sounds from her mouth were intelligible. It was as if she were interpreting into English what she had spoken by the Spirit. Every sentence she uttered was like a spot light on my soul. How did she know?
By this time, I was in tears and she was reaching for the door handle. "Please, may I buy you a sandwich or soda?" She shook her head in the negative as she exited the van and disappeared inside the advertisement-lade doors of the small mini-mart. I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes expecting to see her emerge with her brown paper bag in tow. She didn't and I was again aware of being late for my appointment. I pulled out onto the narrow black-top, glancing repeatedly in the rear-view mirror to catch another glimpse of my friend. I never saw her again.
It is not often that the scriptures we read in the early morning are dramatically played out in our lives by mid day. But that frosty February manana was perfectly orchestrated to test my heart in obedience to both the written Word and the spoken Word of the Lord. I give glory to God that at least in this instance I drove away victorious in being a doer of the Word and blessed by the supernatural response from an unknown messenger.
( A few days after my encounter with the woman on Hwy 69, I recounted the events to a close friend. She asked me if I had considered that the woman I picked up that day might have been an angle. I responded, "Well, if so, somewhere out there is an angle with a really nice coat." )