God Reads E-Mail

On a Sunday morning I sat at my computer checking my e-mail. I opened my mailbox, and as usual, there were at least twelve forwarded messages. They were all from the same person. Day after day I received messages like these. Most of them contain forwarded prayers – the ones that say, "If you love the Lord, you will pass this on." Others are junk. I do love the Lord, but I doubt He's going to strike me dead if I don't forward these e-mails. I couldn't imagine someone having so much time on their hands to spend the day forwarding those annoying, silly e-mails. How ridiculous! Delete, delete, delete! I had way too much to do to sit there and scroll down through endless strings of e-mail addresses and computer codes to find the actual text of each of those messages. As much as I detested these e-mails, I didn't have the heart to tell my Internet friend that they were unwanted and very irritating. So I continued to receive and delete them without opening.

Around 7:00 p.m. I had finished most of my online work, so I decided to turn the computer off and give it a rest. At 7:30 p.m. the phone rang. I didn't recognize the number on the caller ID, but I answered it anyway. An unfamiliar male voice asked, "Are you Evelyn's mother?" I replied, "Yes?" with a question in my voice. "You don't know me, but Evelyn has been working for me occasionally, and I haven't seen or heard from her for four days," he said. It wasn't unusual for me not to see Evelyn, sometimes for weeks, but she normally kept in touch with her friends.

Evelyn became addicted to drugs when she was twenty-five years old. I always knew when she was using them, because she avoided family until she was straight. I gained custody of her beautiful children, and even though she'd stay gone for weeks, she usually kept in touch by phone. This was not at all like her.

I began to cry on the phone. I hung up and started calling her friends, her roommate. No one else had seen or heard from her in four days either.

But the worst news was yet to come.

I began to get stories about some of the drug dealers. They were calling Evelyn a snitch. Apparently someone had seen her getting into a police car, and they thought she told the police everything she knew. There was no telling what these people might do (or already had done) to her. I immediately called the city police. The investigator became very concerned for Evelyn, knowing what kind of people she was dealing with, and came right over to take a missing persons report.

I was shaking and crying, but I managed to gain control before he arrived. He appeared in fifteen minutes, paperwork in hand. I hesitated as I tried to remember Evelyn's birthday. "Why can't I remember my own child's birthday?" I asked myself. Maybe because I still thought of her as my little girl. Just yesterday, it seemed, she was only fifteen, living at home, and going to school. Life was not perfect, but we were happy until some no-good jerk offered her that first illegal drug. Now her life was destroyed, and her whole family was suffering with her. Worse than that, she could be lying hurt or dead somewhere, the result of retaliation by these dealers. I too knew what kind of people they were. I myself had been to a few front doors, begging Evelyn to come home. They are not the type of people you cross. They are dangerous, heartless people who make their living killing others with drugs.

I finally blurted out the information the investigator needed. "Dear God," I prated silently, "please, please bring Evelyn home safely." The investigator stated that he was off-duty in fifteen minutes but would stay on long enough to file the report and check some places to see if he could locate her. I thanked him tearfully and slowly went back inside.

I paced the floor until early morning, clutching the phone, waiting for any kind of word about Evelyn's whereabouts. Nothing came. I tried to sleep, but that was useless. No mother can rest when her child is missing. No matter how old the child is, she's still your baby, and you worry until the day you die. I finally managed to cry myself to sleep for an hour.

When I woke up, I called the police department. "Nothing yet," the woman replied, "but if we find her, you'll be the first to know." My heart sank again as I searched for recent pictures of her in case we had to make missing-person flyers. I couldn't find any recent photos, so I got on the Internet to contact my youngest daughter. I knew she had more recent photos and would e-mail them to me so I could print them.

I opened my mailbox, and there were another five forwarded messages from that bothersome woman. "Oh, no, not now!" I said to myself. I began to delete them one by one but stopped at the last one. I thought, "I know that prayer works. If I send an Internet prayer request to this person, I know she'll forward it."

I began to compose a message to tell the message-sender that my daughter had been missing for five days now, to please pray for her safe return, and to forward the e-mail to all of her friends. Within a few minutes I began to get e-mails of concern and sympathy. Within one hour of sending out my Internet prayer request, Evelyn's roommate called. "I just heard from Evelyn, and she's fine!" she said excitedly. I got on my knees and thanked God for finding her. I knew this was no coincidence! I also thanked Him for those annoying forwarded messages.

Evelyn is safe at home now, but she has a long road to recovery. She has tried many times to break this horrible addiction, but somehow she always seems to slip up. I've tried everything in my power to convince her to get help. So far nothing has worked.

I think I'll send another Internet prayer request.... After all, I know God reads e-mail.

By Connie R. Smith
A Cup of Comfort for Christians

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