I try to walk through my neighborhood every week night with my oldest daughter. It’s a way to get fresh air and exercise, but also a way to steal a few moments with my precious girl before she decides she is embarrassed to be with me in public. Well, last night my sweet husband was working feverishly on a project, and I knew that if I left the two younger girls there, they would pester him for attention, so all four of us went walking.
Just in case you are beginning to picture some sweet family scene, allow me to dispel the myth. Walking with all of them is a little like trying to dog walk with a Great Dane, a Lab and a Chichuchua. Everyone wants to walk next to me, and no one wants to walk behind anyone else. So the first half of the walk was consumed with trying to teach them to walk two-by-two and not step on each other. Sigh.
Carly and I normally follow a certain path when we walk, mainly so I don’t have to think about it constantly, and I can I use the time to coax conversation from her. But last night we had used so much of our time learning how to safely walk on the sidewalk, that I decided to cut things short and turn left onto the street that runs along the side of my house. Thankfully, by this time we had found our groove, and were laughing and chatting, waving to our neighbors.
As we neared our block, I noticed one of our neighbors sitting outside at her wrought-iron bistro table, and I waved. But instead of waving back, she spoke to me. But she spoke so softly, that I couldn’t hear her. So I motioned to the girls, and we walked up her driveway. As I neared her, I could see that she was quite distressed. She struggled to stand with the aid of her walker, and said, “I’m locked out.” She went on to say that the hidden key was missing, and the door closed behind her, and she didn’t have a phone. I offered her my cell phone, and she asked me to dial several numbers, to no avail. With each failed attempt to reach someone, she became more and more anxious. It was beginning to get dark, and she had no idea when her granddaughter would be home, and she couldn’t remember anyone else’s phone number. I turned to my girls and told them to walk home, and tell their daddy that I was going to stay with the neighbor until her family returned.
Under much protest, she finally agreed to allow me to sit with her. Over the next hour, she told me about meeting her husband as a Red Cross volunteer during WWII, about moving back to Florida with him, building the house she still lives in, about raising a family. She talked about losing her son this year, and the pain of burying a child, no matter how old. She also told me the history of my own house, and she complimented me on our color choices and the landscaping. As it continued to get dark around us, she asked what my husband and I did for a living. So I told her about the last nine years at the church, about the marketing work we are doing now, and about waiting for God to open another door. She listened intently, nodding as I spoke. She commented on the people she knew who had attended the church over the years, and then changed the subject.
Her family came home shortly after that, upset that she had bothered me, and that we had been sitting outside. As I stood to shake her hand, she said, “My name is Triscka. Now we are truly neighbors. Come back and visit with me again.” After promising I would, I walked home in the dark.
As I read the Gospels, I am again and again struck by the interruptions into Jesus’ schedule. Each healing seemed to occur as an interruption as Jesus was on His way somewhere else, to do something else. As we have been at home more recently, I have asked God to show me the everyday interruptions that are really divine encounters, that in my busyness, I would normally walk right by. The person in the grocery store, the man on the side of the road, the elderly neighbor locked out of her house.
It’s funny; I was telling God over the weekend that I feel like I have no one to minister to, that I have seemingly lost my identity as a leader. Then I met Triscka. Such a simple thing, really. Sit with her until her family returns. Ask her about her story. Let her talk. I didn’t give her the steps to salvation according to the “Roman Road”; I just tried to show her that I cared. And maybe plant a seed to someday share how much the God of the universe cares about her.
All last evening, I felt so close to God. I felt His Presence everywhere, in everything I read, everything I watched. He seemed to just be hovering around me, wrapping His arms around me. And I wonder as I write this, is this where I display my passion for the Savior, in the little interruptions that I’m willing allow Him to use?
Triscka thanked me repeatedly, but I truly am the one who was blessed by our “chance” meeting. So, friends, who has God placed in your overloaded schedule today? Who might He be asking you to reflect His love and mercy to? “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16)
Let me know how your opportunities pan out today……
In pursuit of zoe,