When God Comes Through
I was homeless.
There was no other way to describe my situation. Taking my hands out of my pockets, there was an explosion of pain in my immobile, deathly white fingers as I mashed the dialpad of my dinky little flip phone as I tried calling Ludger Lamers for about the millionth time. I didn’t know why I did. I didn’t even know what I’d say if he – or they, or whoever they really were – actually did pick up.
This was a lot easier in the dingy Greek restaurant next door. Or at least it was until they kicked me out because I couldn’t buy anything.
The rain-snow mix falling from the sky was getting heavier. Even my tears had begun freezing on my face as the early January night grew later.
Sitting atop the twin suitcases that made up all my life’s possessions, none of the hundreds of cars driving past on the busy Berlin street – or dozens of people walking by – so much as slowed down to ask if I was OK.
There were only a few choices. I could wander out into traffic or do something to quickly get arrested. At least a jail cell would be warm. But I’d probably be deported and possibly never allowed to return. My dream of remaining overseas – which began just a few months earlier when I’d applied online for a job with a major German media outlet at about 3 in the morning while bleary-eyed and half asleep and admitting in the interview (still shocked that they even got back to me at all) I spoke basically zero German, and then in what can only be described as a miracle getting hired – would be shattered. My career would be in ruins before it truly began. And my life would be over – possibly literally. I couldn’t live in the United States.
Going to a homeless shelter was another option. The only problem: I didn’t know where any of them were – and my phone didn’t have Internet.
But I couldn’t check into a hotel – thanks to the fake apartment scam I’d just fallen victim to, I had absolutely no money. I didn’t even have enough to put credit on my phone so I could call my family in Oregon to ask for help, or any of my friends in Europe. I’d been informed I was out after the last text I’d sent to a friend who lived in western Germany.
But I couldn’t stay out on the streets. In this cold, with the temperature dropping further, there seemed to be a good chance I’d die if I stayed out much longer. Even wearing two jackets and three sweaters, I was shivering so hard my whole body was shaking.
My mind was racing at a million miles an hour. The realisation that I’d fallen for a scam left a gnawing sensation of emptiness inside, but also felt like a heavy weight threatening to crush me entirely. I was inert. Panic was tightening its grip like a vise. For the first time in my life, I didn’t know what to do.
As many of us know, it’s in our darkest moments God often comes through. Daniel in the lions’ den. Jonah inside the whale. Moses and the Israelites fleeing from Pharaoh’s armies. Paul in prison, when he was shipwrecked, and on numerous other occasions. Jesus’ own disciples when they were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee and were caught in a sudden storm. The list goes on.
Of course, it’s hard for us to realise that God is looking out for us when we’re in the depths of our dark moments. Yet even Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and countless others have spoken openly about their dark moments, and how God was looking out for them when they didn’t necessarily expect it. And in this particular moment, I was wondering why God had let this happen at all.
Clouds of vapour swirled about with each breath. The police had been utterly useless. They didn’t even offer to help when I told them I now had no money whatsoever. All they did was bring a car to my location, have a couple officers who looked younger than me disinterestedly scribble something on a notepad every now and again, and drive away with barely more than a “goodbye.”
I had nothing. I WAS nothing.
But guess what? It was in that dark moment God came through. As He does for all of us in His own way.
I was praying, but not in an on-the-ground, hands folded or lifted to the sky kind of way. It was more of a general thought, a single all-consuming thing that repeated over and over again in my mind.
Please God, somehow, get me through this. Please.
It was too cold to take my glasses off to wipe away the snowflakes. Even buried in my pockets and wrapped in the sleeves off all those layers, my fingers were completely numb. The shivering was feeling more like convulsions than a mere reaction to the cold. The icy tendrils of darkness felt like they were slowly beginning to wrap themselves around me.
And that’s when God came through.
The call was so unexpected I almost thought the phone’s vibrating was just more shivering. I was hearing the words, but couldn’t understand them. Holding the phone to my ear, I no longer could feel anything. I was pretty sure it was frozen to my face.
My friend was saying she’d asked around, and heard of an “artists’ colony” where people could stay. All I had to do was go to an address not far (read: within walking distance, even with the two rolling suitcases and backpack I had) from where I presently was, and tell them I was looking for a place to sleep.
I had no words. I didn’t even know what to think.
I’m not sure she realised it at the moment, but sh