I had a friend who loved the opportunities he found along the way. He called them “divine appointments.” He would meet someone on a trip and a conversation would spark and after awhile it was clear the Holy Spirit had set something up. What was special about this friend was he didn’t run on a clock. If a conversation began, he gave it his full attention regardless of what was next on the schedule. He wanted to allow the Spirit to set the agenda.
My wife and I saw some thing special happen in our traveling this week. We had stopped in Memphis on our way back home. We had left our vehicle parked at the front door while we unloaded so we decided to take it to a nearby restaurant rather than me just park it and we would eat dinner in the hotel. As we came out, another lady had pulled up and was getting unloaded. I noticed her vehicle was similar to ours so I commented, “So this must be the special parking for Hondas.”
She looked up at me, looked at both vehicles, broke into a huge smile and laughed. She made a comment with a loud voice and all of it for my wife and I was a feeling of, “Wow! What joy! That lady has a deep joy!”
We drove to a nearby restaurant and ordered dinner. As we’re waiting for dinner, my wife leaned over to get my attention and nodded to the table next to us. The lady from the hotel had been seated next to us. I made a joke about Hondas again, she looked up, saw us and broke into that huge smile again. We talked for a bit and joked about how we would run into each other next. In the midst of that conversation, I had some sense that she was carrying an inner pain with her. I didn’t know why I felt that.
The next morning we had breakfast in the hotel, packed, and then headed out. As we were leaving the lobby, my wife saw her again. She had sat down to order breakfast, so my wife let me know she saw her and walked over to greet her. I followed and again the lady broke into a huge smile and stood up. It was obvious she was having difficulty standing.
The smile faded a bit. She explained she had knee surgery a few months ago and was still recovering. Then, the smile dissipated and she said, “I feel like I can be honest with you all. I need to tell you.”
She then went on to explain that the day she got home from her knee surgery, she was sitting on the couch with her husband and he died from a massive coronary sitting next to her. He was only 41. She then explained about her adult kids and how the holidays were obviously hard and she was trying to get away to gain some equilibrium in her life. We immediately embraced her and thanked her for being so honest and open to us.
“I knew you were special people and I could tell you.”
We prayed with her and let her know how much the “chance encounter” meant to us. What was so special about all of it to me was how a lady with such deep sorrow would greet us with such deep joy. Her joy toward us had touched us deeply. The divine appointment wasn’t so much for her as it was for us. We had met a woman carrying incredible pain and yet would allow joy to flow out toward us. She would then allow her pain to be shared with us. It was a powerful moment for me.
All along the way in our lives we will interact with people carrying a mixture of deep joy and deep pain. How they carry it will be their decision and we don’t dictate the “how” to anyone. We don’t even know how we may carry our own mixture of sadness and joy. We stay open to what the Spirit may have for us and for others.
The Spirit certainly met the three of us over a chance encounter outside a hotel in Memphis. I am grateful for saints I meet along the way and how they allow me to witness their journey.