Thirteen At The Table
A True Situation By Gladis Behnke Triplett as told to Emma Claypool Moore
By Tom Stephens
We knew it was impossible for any human to do all she had done in such a short time, so in curiosity and unbelief we questioned friends and neighbors, even the police in our town, about the stranger. No one had heard of such a person.
The plainly dressed woman who rang the doorbell at our home in Newberg, Oregon, about 10:30 that morning was a stranger to me.
So weak and ill I could scarcely stand, I clung to the door for support. All I grasped was the word prayer.
I assumed she had come for help. My husband was holding evangelistic meetings in another city, but I invited her in and sank weakly to my knees beside the couch. She removed a damp scarf from her rain-bedraggled hair and laid aside her coat.
As I started to ask about her need, she said, "I did not come for prayer. The Father has sent me to minister to you, dear child. He has sent me to you because of your distress and great need. You called with all your heart, and you asked in faith."
With that she lifted me in her arms, laid me on the couch, covered me, and said, "When you cried unto Him in the night, your Heavenly Father heard your prayer. Sleep now, my child, for He cares for you."
Marveling, I said, "Oh, thank you. But how did you get here?"
"I came because of the cry of your heart in your great need."
She asked to use my bathroom to freshen up. When she returned, there was no trace of her having been in the rain. Her thick auburn hair appeared freshly combed, with braids coiled softly about her head. An indescribable glow covered her face, though it was a plain, sweet face.
This was the last I remembered. I, who had been unable to sleep for several nights, slept. Only God knew how much I needed it.
We had pastored in several states since our marriage and had only recently come to Oregon, my home state. The pastor of the Assembly of God at Newberg had asked me to help with Sunday school and youth work and house-to-house visitation. My husband was preaching in neighboring churches while waiting for a pastorate.
When he had been called for this revival, he had hesitated to leave me. My strength had not fully returned after the birth of the new baby...our eighth. I assured him we could manage; the children were good to help me.
On that Monday morning, after a sleepless night, I had fallen asleep when we should have been getting up. The children and I hurried through breakfast and took time for morning devotions. The two oldest children, Loren, a high school freshman, and Delta, our eighth grader, usually did the dishes. But this morning I had hurried them off to school. Delta wanted to help, but I thought she should not stay out of school. We agreed they could all pitch in after school.
When the door closed after the last child, I was exhausted. The mountain of dirty dishes, the unmade beds, a cluttered house, and a large pile of laundry overwhelmed me.
That is when the visitor came. I collapsed on the couch, hoping to rest and gain strength to bathe the two preschoolers.
Three hours later when I awoke refreshed, I looked in disbelief at my house. All the children's toys and belongings had been picked up, and the floors were clean. My 3-month-old baby, freshly bathed, was asleep in her crib. The dining table was extended to full length, spread with my best cloth, and was set with my best table service. There were places for 13, plus the high chair for our 16-month-old girl.
The appearance of the kitchen was even more astounding. The heaps of dirty dishes were gone, and the floors were clean. The active toddler was clean and sitting quietly in a chair by the table, playing with a spoon. There was a freshly baked cake, a large bowl of salad, and some other prepared food on the counter.
Even this was not the most bewildering. The basket of baby laundry and a full hamper of family laundry, plus the bedding from all the beds that had been changed on Saturday, had been washed, dried, ironed, and put away. My guest was just folding the ironing board.
I stared in disbelief. My washing machine was not capable of putting out that many loads in 3 hours. I had no dryer, and it was raining. How had she dried those clothes?
My usual three full baskets of ironing took me parts of 2 days. Often the children finished ironing after school. Yet she had done it all. I found later that each child's clothing had been folded and put in the proper drawers, and all the beds had been made.
As I expressed my thankfulness and wonder at the transformation of the house, I asked, "How could you get so much done in such a short time?"
"It is by God's enablements," she replied.
I asked where she lived, where she had spent the night. I tried to find out who she was, but her answers were strange.
Finally I asked, "Why is all this food prepared and the dining table set? We ordinarily eat in the kitchen when my husband is away, and we don't have that many in our family."
She replied, "Oh, you will be having guests soon."
I gasped. "Thirteen at the table?" We talked in the kitchen for some time. I remember feeling awe as she ministered to me in words of faith. As the children came from school, each looked at my guest and came over near me. I could tell they were puzzled. Several of the younger ones whispered, "Who is she, Mama? She looks funny-kind of different." Earlier I had asked her name so I might introduce her to my family. She answered, "Just say I am a friend or a child of God who came because of your prayer."
I told the children, "This is a wonderful lady God sent to help me today. You see, Mommie prayed for help, and God sent this wonderful friend."
When my husband returned unexpectedly soon after the children came home, there were five others with him. There had been a death in the church,. and the meeting had been canceled for a few days. My husband had left our car for me; so the pastor, his wife, their daughter, and another couple had driven over to bring him home. He would return later to continue the meetings.
Our visitor was just preparing to leave when Mr. Triplett came into the kitchen. I introduced her to him, as I had to the children. He said, "That's just wonderful. It's just like Jesus."
At 5 o'dock we were seated around the dinner table with our six older children, the two of us, and the five guests. There were 13 at the table. The toddler was in the high chair, and the baby was in her crib.
Our visitor vanished, and we found all the cooking utensils had been washed.
What could I have done in my weakened condition in my untidy house without the help of this amazing visitor? I would have been embarrassed. My husband and family would have been ashamed, for we normally kept our housework done. The guests would not have felt at ease. What I might have prepared for them to eat, I do not know. Any woman who has been in a similar predicament can appreciate my gratitude.
We had never heard of such a visitation. We knew it was impossible for any human to do all she had done in such a short time, so in curiosity and unbelief we questioned friends and neighbors, even the police in our town, about the stranger. No one had heard of such a person. No one could give us a clue to her identity. Our only explanation is that she was an angel "sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14).
Every time I speak of this experience I melt into tears at the mercy and loving-kindness of my Heavenly Father to send help in my extremity.
"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33).
Gladys Triplett is the mother of Loren Triplett, who, in 1990, was the executive director of the Division of Foreign Missions. The events occurred when he was in high school The article was originally published in Live in 1968, and in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1972. At the time of this printing, in January 7th, 1990, Mrs Triplett lived at Maranatha Village in Springfield, Missouri.
Submitted by Tom Stephens