I was due to catch an early flight to Nashville. I was tired and grumpy. I didn’t feel great and couldn’t wait to get on the plane and sleep for a couple of hours. Thankfully I wasn’t seated next to a “Chatty Cathy.”
When I arrived in Nashville, I had an hour wait before I met up with my traveling companions. I retrieved my luggage and sat down in an oversized wooden rocking chair, deliberately turning my back to the woman sitting next to me.
I pulled out my book and settled into reading. In my mind, making it clear that I wanted to be left alone.
Then it happened.
The woman next to me initiated contact.
Oh no! I don’t want to talk. Please no! I was being self-centered.
“That’s a pretty suitcase.”
Ugh. Small talk. It’s the worst when you’re introverting and want to be left alone. I wasn’t making myself available to God.
Thanks. I bought purple so I could identify it quickly.
Then what always happens to me happened…again.
“You probably don’t care, but my life is falling apart. Can I talk to you about it?”
God has a funny way of intruding into my neat and tidy little world.
I felt like He was saying, “You’re on assignment for me today.”
I halfheartedly responded, Oh no, you’re wrong. I do care. I was a reluctant servant.
(I’m a Christ-follower for goodness sakes. Love God and love people. It’s in the Bible.)
Her story began with the loss of her mother just a few days earlier. She was in the hospital dying from cancer. She had been estranged from her mother for several years. She traveled hundreds of miles to make peace with her mom who was in a coma.
It wasn’t perfect. It seemed impersonal. But she felt a little better after telling her comatose mother that she forgave her for being such a rotten mom.
Then she flew hundreds of miles more to be with her declining and debilitated grandmother who had raised her. When she arrived at her apartment she found a demented old woman living in filthy conditions. She found maggots crawling all over the food in the refrigerator. She was devastated that the woman she loved so dearly was living in such an unsafe and unhealthy environment. She knew she had hard decisions to make that would be in the best interest of her grandmother. She said the stress and anxiety were wearing her out emotionally.
Then there was her daughter. She hadn’t spoken to her in three years. She was waiting in the airport for her daughter to arrive. This would be the first time they met to talk and try to reconcile their relationship.
She said she felt overwhelmed and paralyzed.
I listened for 45 minutes trying to interject truth and encouragement when I could.
I finally asked her if she had a faith. Her answer was short and direct, “No. I used to go to church. But I’m so bad I don’t think God wants to have a thing to do with me.”
Be intentional. Pay attention to what God is doing around you. Not on my radar this time. One question led to another, and I was able to share how much God loves her.
She had one sticking point and I knew it was coming.
“If God loves people so much, why is there so much suffering in the world?”
Well, God loves the world so much that He was willing to allow His own Son Jesus to suffer a cruel death on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world.
I could see in her eyes that she was having an “aha” moment.
“Wow. I never thought about it like that before. You’ve given me a lot to think about.”
Then her phone rang.
“Thank you so much for talking with me! It’s all about Jesus, right?”
Then she gave me a hug and a kiss and off she went.
I didn’t even get her name.
–Be aware of what God is doing in your sphere of influence.
-Take every opportunity to share the love of Christ.