Let me set the scene:
Saturday evening. Busy food court at a mall. Hockey going on down the way while I stand in line for something to quell my growling tummy. In front of me I notice a woman. I was right behind her in line and I heard her express some things to a friend that told me that things were not going swimmingly well in her world. My heart felt for her. For I serve a God who is God of the impossible, the God of miracles, the God-who-raises-the-dead and gives breath to dry bones. I know that Jesus wanted to breathe on her life too. I asked God in my heart for some encouragement to give her. Something. Anything. A picture. A word that would let her know that the God-of-the-universe loved her despite what she was feeling. But I came up with nothing. Besides, with her phone glued to her ear, I didn’t think it was an opportune moment to interrupt and try to speak with her. The last glimpse I had of her was at a table, scrolling through her phone while eating dinner. I paused momentarily, wondering if I should go speak to her, and then I walked on.
Fast forward one week:
Saturday evening. Busy church auditorium, resplendent with tables set up for a fundraising event. I walk in and see…. her. My heart skipped a beat. God? What? She’s here? We were in a different city even!! I giggled in glee at the God of second chances. I had felt his heart of compassion for her a week ago and here we were sharing the same physical space once again. I took it to mean that yes, God wanted me to speak His words of love to her. I went over and introduced myself, telling her that I thought I had recognized her, and we did the chit-chat thing. While I talked with her, I was asking God for something for her. I wanted the words to be His and not mine. But once again, I didn’t have anything. After ending our conversation I chatted with a few more people and then sat down, noticing that she had been placed at the table beside me despite the 60 tables in the room. During dinner, I asked God again for what He wanted to say to her.
I got two pictures in my heart.
By the end of the 2 hour dinner, I was waffling a little. I understand that as a follower of Jesus, as a ‘sheep’ of his, I can hear his voice. (Jn. 10:27) I had asked God for something for this woman. And I had received something. But then, I began to doubt. Is this really for her? What if it isn’t? Besides that, my ride had already left the room and headed out to the foyer. Maybe it doesn’t matter… I couldn’t see her…
Then I decided that it did matter. I could not get out of my head the divine coincidence. I could step out in this and try, despite my misgivings, and despite my doubts. Everyone needs encouragement. And if I didn’t get it, so what? I wasn’t even sure what the pictures truly meant. But I wanted to give what I had received. Perhaps she would understand directly what the pictures were about.
I spotted her amidst the flurry of activity of people tidying tables, and rushing around with dirty dishes, and busily saying their goodbyes. I told her that I thought God may have given me a picture for her. She was completely open to hearing it. I shared with her the 2 pictures that I had. I didn’t have much of an interpretation of what they meant, but a ‘sense’ of what they possibly meant and I shared that with her as well. She said, that yes, it fit. It fit with what was going on in her life and in her heart. She then began to open up to me about some of the challenges in her life… the rough road she had been walking. In that moment, when I swallowed doubt and fear, and stepped out and shared what I thought God gave me, she felt safe enough to open up about some tough stuff. And I was able to share the load with her for a moment. We were strangers, yet in the Spirit, in His Spirit, we were sisters in Christ.
She told me that she had left the church but had, only 2 weeks ago, come back.
A daughter making her way back home to God.
What encouragement I had as I left! God speaks to our hearts. He gives us words of comfort, encouragement and hope for others. It’s up to us to pass them on.