About 8 years ago, I had an spontaneous thought to go to Walmart and buy school supplies. At that time, I lived about 13 miles away from the city so usually I planned these trips with other stops. I had no previous plans to go and no supply lists. Also it was 7:00 on a Saturday night which was not a normal errand running time for me. I just decided to go. It was unusual. Also unusual, my husband didn't question it.
So as illogical as it appeared that night, I just knew I needed to go to Walmart. So I went and I bought some school supplies that were in the "back to school" sale. On my way out, I stopped in front of the Missing Person Board that was in the entryway of the store. I had a habit of silently praying for the missing people in the photos. As usual, I prayed for them but then followed it by the thought, "I don't know why I bother. No one ever gets found." From there, I walked out into the parking lot. While I was inside, the sun had gone down and it was now night. I loaded my bags in my van and went on my way.
The ramp onto the highway that would take me home was newly constructed. There were no light poles erected yet leaving my van's headlights to illuminate the road. Half way along this very long on ramp, I noticed something on the right side of the road. For a moment I thought it was a body. No, I thought, I am sure my mind was just making shapes out of trash on the side of the road. As I got closer and my headlights could fully light the object, I saw that, yes, it was indeed a body. My mind was not playing tricks on me! I pulled over quickly and left my lights aimed on the person crumpled on the shoulder. I immediately called 911. The operator told me she would send someone but that I could leave the scene. I was appalled. I told her that I didn't think that was right and that I was staying. It was dark! What if someone ran over the person? What if the police never came? The operator said she would send someone and hung up with me. It was pitch dark, on a highway ramp and I didn't know if the person was dead or injured. Maybe they were just faking and waiting for an innocent victim?! So I sat tight with my headlights shining on them so as to alert other cars if they were to come by.
After a few minutes, the body sat up. The person was alive! He move over to the guard rail and sat down on it. Then he flipped over it backwards and disappeared down into the ditch below! I was justified in my decision to stay. No one would have know where he was at all now except for me. I was anxious for the police to come. After a few more minutes, the man climbed up out of the ditch and somehow over the guard rail. He staggered in the direction of my van. He was walking unevenly into my headlights. I knew he couldn't see who or what he was walking towards. Even so, I was afraid to deal with him on my own. I slowly backed away as he got closer. I think he realized he wasn't closing the gap and just decided to have a seat on the ground. Whew!
After a few more seemingly long minutes, a police car pulled up behind me. Both officers stopped to talk to me through my window. I quickly explained what happened. One stayed with me while the other walked ahead to talk to the man. We watched him talk to him as stayed seated on the ground. It didn't take long for him to come back to tell his partner, "He is the man missing from (name withheld)." The officers offered me no explination. They thanked me for helping and immediately drove their car up to the man and helped him inside. Just like that, he was gone and I was free to go.
I was charged up with adrenaline and slow to process what had happened. I didn't recognize the name of the place from which they said the man was missing. It slowly dawned on me as I drove the 13 miles home that someone missing had been found. God had heard my prayers and my cynical comment. I was wrong that no one was ever found. I had witnessed someone being found! I even got to help! God had heard my prayers and they mattered. Praying was not a waste of time. Missing people matter to Him.
Later I looked up the name of the place that the officer had mentioned. It was a nursing and assisted living home. I am so glad he was found.