I saw the grandma standing alone at the local convenience store with a big jug of bourbon. It was only 10AM so I knew she had a problem. But I knew of someone who could help her…
Dory took my million-dollar bill and smiled as she looked at it. “Boy, someone went to a lot of trouble to make these,” she said.
“I usually ask the million dollar question when I hand one of those out. Want to know what it is?” I asked invitingly.
“It’s not, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ is it? I used to work at the airport and wore a button that said, ‘Ask me,’ and everyone asked me that.”
“No, no,” I assured her, “but after you make your purchase, I’ll ask you outside.”
Dory bought her bourbon and met me on the sidewalk. I asked her if she thought she was a good person.
“Oh, yes, yes.”
“Do you think you’ve kept the 10 Commandments?”
“Oh… some of them…”
“Let me ask you a few questions to see if that’s true. Have you ever lied?”
“What does that make you?”
“A liar,” she answered quite forthrightly.
“Have you ever stolen anything?”
“What does that make you?”
“Jesus said that if you look at a person lustfully, you’ve already committed adultery with them in your heart. Have you ever looked lustfully at someone?”
“Have you ever misused God’s name?”
Emphatically Dory protested, “Oh no, never! Wait. Maybe once when I was fourteen I said, ‘Oh God!’ Oh God, yes. I said, ‘Oh God,’ that’s what I said.
“So Dory, you just admitted to me that you are a liar, thief, blasphemous adulteress-at-heart. On the Day of Judgment, when God judges you by the 10 Commandments, will you be found innocent or guilty of keeping them perfectly?”
“Oh my mother was a born-again Christian missionary. I heard this all the time. My daughter is born-again too. She just died and it gives me great peace to know where she is. Yes, I’ve heard this.”
“Dory, will you be found innocent or guilty?” I continued.
“Oh, I don’t want to answer. I’ve heard this… God forgives.”
“Yes He does,” I said reassuringly, “but there’s more.”
“Yes. I guess… guilty.”
“So do you think you would go to heaven or hell?”
“Hell. I know,” she said sadly. “I’ve got to go; I’ve got to…”
“You’ve heard all this?” I asked gently. I was moved by this poor lady’s dilemma. I wanted her to know the hope she has, that she isn’t forgotten, that there is a God who loves her. “Your Mom and daughter told you about all this? It’s not a coincidence that I’m here to talk to you too.”
Visibly distressed, she made another excuse to get away, “I really have to go. I can’t talk.”
“Wait, Dory. Do you know what God did so you wouldn’t have to go to hell?”
“No, uh, what?”
“He sent His Son to die on a cross for you. If you’ve broken just one of God’s Commandments, you’ve sinned. If you repent—turn away from your sins—and trust in Jesus, He will forgive you.”
Weakly, she said, “I really have to go…” Tears welled up in her eyes as she left to get in her car. I followed.
“Dory, you don’t have to go to hell. For God so loved the world…”
She finished my sentence, “…that He gave His only begotten Son… I know. I know.”
“You know that?” I asked. Dory blinked back her tears. “Before you go, how can I pray for you?”
“I can’t say. I can’t say right now…”
“We’ll pray for you, right now, right here.”
“No not here; I’ve gotta go.”
“Dory, tell me how we can pray for you.”
There was a moment’s hesitation. I waited. Then, “Pray for my daughter’s drinking problem.” She paused. “And… mine too. And, I smoke too much.”
Before she jumped in her car, I invited her to church.
“I remember when Hope Chapel was a bowling alley,” she said with a faint smile. Dory closed her car door and slowly drove away.
My daughters and I closed our car doors too. Then we closed our eyes and prayed for this little lost woman.
-By Steve Sanchez