by Natasha Theberge
One Summer Night, a couple of friends and I decided to go watch a movie. A Christian film had only been out a few days, I had seen it when it was first released, and I had told my friends that they needed to see it. After the movie was over, my friend Sue saw that she had gotten a voicemail. The bathrooms were down the hall, so she decided to listen to it while we waited for our friend, Rose. The hall was filled with different kinds of people exiting different theater rooms and entering others.
People were crowded shoulder to shoulder. Sue had just finished listening to the voicemail, and Rose came out of the bathroom to meet up with us. Sue, Rose, and I are very close friends and have shared many interesting moments together. We’ve had crazy moments of interceding for people, shared moments of joy, and moments of crying. We are not related by blood, but we share a bond, a willingness to serve God, and a desire to follow His leading.
Now, to help you better understand what is about to happen next, I will need to back up a bit. We were not always this close. We knew each other, went to church together and hung out during social engagements, but that was the most it ever amounted to. Earlier that summer, Sue, Rose, and I taught and led children and youth at a camp. The director and his wife were our mentors.
They had seen us grow and become adults. They Pastored us, taught us, were our youth pastors at one time, and really invested in us. Helping them out was an easy decision.
We loved them, we loved the kids, and we loved the work God was doing in their lives. While there, God worked on us and put a fire in our hearts like we had never experienced before. We were praying for each staff member, cook, leader, and child. We were mentoring, listening to,
loving each person, and fighting for their relationships with God, family, and friends. We didn’t sleep much, but we were filled and blessed. It was the start of some crazy experiences God would lead us on.
Okay, now, fast forward to this summer night. Sue listens to her voicemail. Her Grandma lets her know that her Aunt is in the Emergency Room a town over. I can’t remember all the details about the voicemail. Her Aunt was going to be okay, and I remember Sue asking us if we would mind riding along with her to check on her Aunt and see if she needed anything. Rose and I agreed and left our vehicles in the parking lot to save time. To get to this particular town, one needs to drive over a bridge to get to the other side a few miles away.
So there we were, each of us leaving messages and voicemails to a loved one. Sue lets her husband know. I let my husband know. And Rose, who wasn’t married at the time, let her parents know since she was living with them. It’s getting late. Sue is driving. The only light we can see comes out of the lamp posts spread out every so many feet. You look out past the bridge and it’s a black abyss. An empty void just sitting there, lifeless, gloomy.
We have driven over this bridge many times. This city is a hub for young people. It’s small enough, beautiful, and it’s our home. The winters are beautiful. The summers provide a lovely sunset that hits the horizon perfectly in the evenings. Many people visit the bridge from neighboring states as it sits nearly 500ft over a canyon. To us, it’s part of our everyday life. The bridge is just there. On this night, it was no different than any other night. I was seated in the back of the car and passively looked down at my hands, that were folded neatly on my lap. For some reason, I was given this impression to look out the right side of my window, and to my surprise, there was a shadowy figure standing right where I was looking. A man, all dressed in black. Taller than me. With one look, you could see that he could take care of himself. But what is he doing partially bent over on the side of the bridge? I cannot begin to tell you everything that went on in my mind.
All I knew was that all of a sudden, I was speechless and stunned. Why did God compel me to look at that time, and why did I feel so weird about it? As I turned my head in confusion, Rose looked back at me and asked me if I had just seen him. All I could do was nod my head in response. Really God? You had Rose look too? This moment is difficult to convey into words. When I tell you this was an experience like I have never had before, I mean, really. I honestly have never experienced something like this. Not before and not since.
Sue had just gotten off the phone when she heard Rose ask me if I had seen him and asked who she was talking about. So, Rose explained that there was a man on the bridge. Well…. Sue pulls over at the turn-off people use to park their cars and walk on the bridge. After asking us if we should go talk to him and a moment of silence, she tells us that we are going to talk to him. If you ask any sane person, they would tell you how dumb that idea is. Actually, you don’t even have to ask. You already know. We knew it too, and I’m not recommending you go talk to strange men at night on a bridge, but God asked us to do this for Him, and we needed to obey.
So there we are, arm in arm, praying for safety and still shocked about it all. Were we scared? A little…okay, a lot. But the more we thought about it and prayed, the more concerned we were for him. As we get further down the bridge, we don’t see him anymore. We fear the worst, hoping and praying that he has not jumped. As sad as it is, this is not an entirely uncommon occurrence. After walking a bit more, we see that he has moved from where we initially spotted him and is sitting under the lamppost a little over halfway down the bridge. Praise God, he’s still alive! I can only imagine how sad it would have been to see that he had jumped and ended his life for some reason of hopelessness or another.
This man had troubles in his life, for sure. We just didn’t fully understand why we were there until we spoke to him. Full disclosure, he had been drinking. He wasn’t out of his senses; he was just sad and drinking a little. Now, I am not a good conversation starter, but Sue is. She has the ability to start conversations and warm people up. God’s timing is perfect. He knew she would be the one He would use to get things going. He knew that when she was out of words, Rose and I would be there to keep the conversation flowing.
This man didn’t say much initially, but his words opened up a window to his heart and exposed many hurts and pains. He looked up at me and asked, “How did you see me?” There were so many people in his life who had taken advantage of him. He was there for them, helped them, invested in them, cared for them, and he was left feeling alone and abandoned. Unloved. Forgotten. He was hurting deeply and did not know how he was going to get through these pains.
Tears were rolling down his face. When everything felt like it was coming down on him and that no one cared, there was God. He cared. And that night, for the first time in his life, he was going to find out just how much God cared for him because when no one else should have seen him when no one else thought to look for him, there was God. He saw him, and He had a message for this man. That message was how much God loved him and how invested God is in him. Shockingly, this man had never heard of God before! He grew up not going to church or hearing about Jesus. I mean, he heard people say God or Jesus, but he had never heard of the reason for Christ coming to the cross.
That was why we were there. That was what God wanted us to do. The amount of peace that came over this man, the smile on his face, that was amazing. God did a miracle in that man’s life that night. Whenever we ran out of words, God was not finished. God would continue using us to listen and speak in turn. And if that wasn’t great enough, Sue had lost a Bible that was very dear to her. She used that Bible to take notes and write Bible studies. She had found that Bible earlier that same day and was encouraged by God to give it to this man. What an amazing Father we have.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
We don’t know what became of the man on the bridge, but what we do know is that God did a good thing in his life. He was there that night with a message of His hope and love. What a privilege it was to serve and be obedient. If we had not listened to God’s leading, I don’t know what kind of outcome that man would have had that night. Ultimately, we didn’t end up going to see Sue’s Aunt as she was already home and wanted to rest.
Natasha Theberge is a wife to Chad Theberge and mother to two beautiful children, Kaelem and Emberlynn. She loves to study the bible, go on walks in nature with her husband, and raise her kids along with her husband. Time with God and her family is a huge priority for her. She treasures every moment with them as she watches precious memories be made. She is a writer, public speaker, and the founder of the Truly Through You blog. Her passion for teaching and encouraging people has given her the opportunity to lead in capacities, not limited to, hosting and speaking at women’s retreats, leading bible studies for pre-teen and teenage girls, and as a youth leader. She continues to share God’s messages of hope, truth, and His presence in practical and encouraging ways that will help uplift and serve everyone in their everyday lives and in their relationships with others.