He turned off the lights. My heart—almost audible—frantic inside my chest.
Late evening approached when a handful of people boarded a Greyhound bus. As the majority made their way to the middle and back of the bus, I chose to sit in the front. In a place of safety.
Vacationing at the beach with my dad and his family came to an end. But my father decided to extend his trip. Though I was leaving a few days later. A college student, six weeks of missions in Africa marked my summer calendar.
I needed to go home, pack, and prepare for the trip of a lifetime. I had never flown before. (Once as a toddler, but I don’t remember it.) And I had never been on a commercial bus. Until now.
My father and I went to the local bus station. “It will be fine,” he assured me. “People take the bus all the time.”
The ticket attendee gave us the travel schedule. My bus would arrive at 3:00 AM to a terminal where I would board another bus for the rest of my journey.
Still, there were no buses going straight through to my destination. I would have a three hour lay-over until 6:00 AM. The person on the other side of the glass made a promise to my dad.
“There’s a coffee shop located in the terminal for your daughter’s secure and waiting pleasure.”
Boarding the bus and scanning my choice of seats and neighbors, I chose the first row behind the driver. Outside appearances looked nice enough. Probably in his early fifties and maybe a daughter my age—twenty. He was old enough to be my father. And he looked fatherly.
The bus driver seemed harmless. While he drove, we talked about family, interests, and his life as a Greyhound driver.
Pulling into the terminal where I would wait, I was the only occupant who stood to exit. The door opened and another driver ascended the stairs to drive the bus to its intended location.
The place looked dark and deserted. The driver retrieved my bags and gave me bad news. “We don’t open until 5:00 AM.”
I stood on the sidewalk, luggage in hand. Then I watched the bus depart into the pitch-black morning. As the tail lights disappeared, it felt surreal. A scene right out of a movie.
The driver I spent hours chatting with, headed to sleeping quarters behind the bus station. Appearing to be concerned for my well-being, he suggested I wait inside…with him. But letting me know he could lose his job for the act of kindness.
Hesitant until a music-blaring-car barreled by. So, off I went, inside with the bus driver.
I sat in a chair. The room was small with basic contents; office desk, a few chairs, a counter top, and a cot. He looked over an itinerary. “I’ll have to get some shut-eye,” he informed me.
A few outside lights peered through a window. I could make out his silhouette on the small bed. Listening as he sighed and breathed. My heart racing.
Restless, he stood, striking up a conversation as he walked over to the window. Should I speak or pretend I am sleeping? I remained quiet.
Then he uttered these words. “Can I have a hug?” I immediately sensed the danger zone for an assault.
Grabbing my suitcase, I made a beeline for the door. I found a pay phone. Yes, they had those back then. I didn’t call the police right away. But, I would be holding a phone in my hand for an emergency call if needed.
I called a boyfriend I’d been dating for a few months. By the way, I married him three years later. Holding the clumpy phone receiver in my right hand and talking to a sympathetic soul on the other end. Anxious and out on the street, I prayed.
While the coffee shop remained closed. I found a place of secure and waiting pleasure. An attentive listener to my heart-cries.
“For I am the Lord your God Who holds your right hand, and Who says to you, ‘Do not be afraid. I will help you’” Isaiah 41:13 NLV.
5:00 AM finally came. The station opened. I boarded my connecting bus with a new driver I chose not to sit behind or converse with. I arrived home safe. Though I’m not sure about sound.
The night the wheels on the bus stopped going round, the Lord never stopped holding my hand.
Whatever wheels are spinning in your life or if your mind is spinning out of control. Fear not. God is holding your right hand and He is the One who helps you.
Do you know Christ? He wants to hold your hand!