Many more things are wrought by prayer than those of which the world can dream…
THE WINTER DAYS were severely cold. In the small dark room in the corner of the house in which she sat, she comforted her brother in her lap. He was severely ill with a lung infection and was unable to speak. He did not let anyone even switch on the lights.
For almost three full days, she sat there in the dark, knowing that she had a Physics exam coming up. But nothing could comfort her more than comforting the lovely, miraculous child who was now lying in his sister's warm lap.
The three days passed. It was now the morning of the midterm examination. Her supposed three days of preparation had passed without her having read a single word, but she felt not even a hint of anxiety or fear. Her mind was completely at rest, filled with the peace of knowing that she had done what she really needed to do. In her heart she knew that she had everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Her mom arrived home at 8:15 that morning, tired from working a night shift. She handed over her brother to her mom and she hurriedly assembled her things. Without even changing her dress she headed to the porch to get her bicycle for the 40 minute ride to college. As she pulled out the bicycle it rolled heavily....What…A rear tyre was punctured! It was too early for any of the shops to be open yet in such cold weather. The sun still would not rise until past 10:00.
Having no choice, she rushed to her friend's home a seven minute walk away. Although her friend was studying at the same college as she, it was already too late. She had left ten minutes before. She asked her friend's mom to lend her her bicycle for a day, but she couldn't find the keys.
Walking back home in the chill morning through the deep dark endless river of fog on the lonely street, she noticed that all the shops on both sides of the street wre shut down. There was not a sign of life. The silence was profound. There was no way to reach the auto-stand 15 minutes away by bicycle. Though she knew she would lose a full year by not sitting for the exam, her mind was still at peace. She felt that nothing could shake her. It was a state of grace. She was now halfway home passing through those lonely streets, and she still enjoyed the feeling of having lost nothing.
Suddenly a polite and sweet voice came through the morning fog, "Daughter, where do you want to go?" As she turned around, to her surprise she saw a rickshaw stopped beside the curb. She stopped at once feeling a little strange. From where had this man suddenly appeared? She had never seen a rickshaw in that colony, and so early in the morning?
Before she could think too much, her eyes caught a glimpse of the rickshaw driver. He was wearing a pearly white robe and had a long white beard which was shining in the faint morning light. A pure white cloth was wrapped on his head. In between his red cheeks crinkled with apparent joy, his heavenly smile was radiant and he seemed surrounded by a bright aura. He looked a completely saintly figure. She had never seen anyone like this before.
But now a feeling of insecurity ran across her mind. She didn't have nearly enough money to pay the driver to take her anywhere near school. She had only 10 dollars and no rickshaw driver would accept that little for such a journey. Despite her insecurity, and knowing that she had no other option at this point, she gathered up her courage and asked softly, "how much?" With a warm smile, the rickshaw man said, "two dollars."
She stood shocked. Was this seemingly saintly man might an immoral person? How could he possibly be asking such a low price? She hesitated, but realizing that this was her only opportunity, she agreed. As she put her foot on the rickshaw, she noticed that it was brand new. It was beautifully decorated with colorful and finely painted flowers and elephants. She had never seen such a wonderful and comfortable rickshaw in her lifetime.
As the rickshaw man started riding through the lonely street, she heard him start murmuring something, Again, doubt arose in her and she wondered, "perhaps he is not a good man after all.". Sitting quite still on the rickshaw, she just squeezed down her fear for a while. The rickshaw man was driving very fast and in two minutes they were on the main road which was much more secure and well lit. Her fear began to subside.
Within less than six minutes, the rickshaw man had taken her to the front of the auto which was preparing to leave for her college. It was the only auto on the well lit road, the formal auto-stand. She stepped down the rickshaw and signaled the auto to stop for her. Averting her eyes, she hurriedly handed her ten dollars to the rickshaw man.. But he waved it away with a smile..The thought came to her that perhaps he did not have any change, since it was so early in the morning.
She turned to the auto driver and asked him to change the ten dollar bill so she could give two dollars to the rickshaw man. The driver looked at her very strangely. She realized that everyone in the auto was staring at her as if she were mad. As she turned her head to look back at the rickshaw, there saw nothing but the streetlights reflecting off the shiny black surface of the road. She gazed back as far as she could standing there clutching her money in her hand.
Stunned, she faintly realized the driver was speaking to her. "Are you coming or not?" She turned to the rother riders. "Did you see the rickshaw?" Everyone just stared at her blankly. No one replied.
Bewildered, she sat down in the auto and 15 minutes later she was in front of her college and as the bell rang at 9:00 am sharp, she was sitting on her seat in the examination hall.
After her examination was over, with six dollars remaining in her pocket, she caught the auto back to the auto stand, and then a rickshaw back to her home where her mother paid the rickshaw driver ten dollars.
Her mom served her food and asked her if everything had gone okay. She slowly recounted the whole incident and expressed her regret that the old rickshaw man had not taken even two dollars for his service. She described how, to her surprise, the rickshaw driver had vanished without a word and how the other people in the auto had stared at her so strangely.
Her mom chuckled and said. "You know dear, that old rickshaw driver was God himself. That's why He wasn't visible to the auto driver and the other people. That's why they looked at you as if you were mad."
Suddenly she felt a pang of regret in her heart and tears filled her eyes. "Why couldn't I recognize Him? Oh, my gosh! I even had bad thoughts about Him!" She wondered if He would forgive her.
Being a science student, she had never believed the story her mom had told her about her brother's miraculous birth.
Her brother had been born prematurely a month early. His lungs were undeveloped and he could not get enough oxygen. The doctors told her mother that the baby would probably survive only twelve hours or so. As that evening approached, the baby's toenails began turning blue from lack of oxygen.
Crying softly, her mother had watched as the nails of his tiny hands turned blue as well. The life was draining from his weak and forlorn cries signaled his approaching death.
His father had left the hospital. He was simply unable to watch his newborn child dying for no apparent reason. Her mom could not help crying and finally she placed her hand on the child's head and started to pray. Her eyes were shut and she looked as if in a trance.
After a half an hour of praying fervently with her whole heart, she told her how she had seen a man with a beautiful white beard, wearing a white robe and a white turban. His eyes sparkled and she saw rays of lights coming from his entire body. He slowly approached, walking between the long lines of beds in the hospital's birthing ward.
He stood beside the child and pointed a finger towards him. Her mother had clearly understood the message,"Life is given to him by God's order (Hukam) and his name should be Hukam." Her mother watched him silently turn and leave the ward.
Suddenly one of the nurses shook her mother's shoulder screaming in joy, "He is coming back to life!" Her mother opened her eyes and saw movement in his tiny. The entire hospital staff gathered to say goodbye to this little one. They were overwhelmed to see this miracle. The most senior doctor, pointed upwards with his index finger and said, "God is great!"
Now, for the very first time, she believed that story. She understood that God can come to this earth to help you when you are alone and helpless. She understood that God is not beyond even becoming a rickshaw puller for a poor creatures like me.
Author's Note: This incident is a true story. It happened to me about 15 years ago. Now I am doing my PhD studies at the University of Sydney. Over this time I have realized how God is completely forgiving and extremely generous. I have experienced His help several times since the incident described in this story. But even with this understanding, every time it happened I was unable to recognize Him and didn't realize until sometime afterward that it was God Himself who had reached out to come to my aid.
- Navdeep Kaur Sandhu (Sydney)