This morning, I was walking with my elderly client, Vern, one of our two waking routes, and my thoughts drifted to what I may say to encourage some students this weekend at an awareness event. I was thinking to say what you believe about yourself is very important. What I want to communicate are these things. You are:
- One of a kind
- Made wonderfully
- Precious and very valuable, and
- Nothing can diminish their value
We approached a white car that was parked crooked and halfway into the sidewalk, which frustrated Vern because of his walker. I laughed it off, “it’s ok, let’s just go around” I said. As we walked around the front of the vehicle, I glanced up for a good look at the owner who was standing behind it – he was a tall, well-dressed, dark-skinned man with a lit cigarette in his hand.
As soon as I said hello, his demeanor changed. He smiled wide and said it back, quickly apologizing for how he was parked. I asked his name and he said Solomon.
“Solomon!” I replied, “I like that name. It’s Biblical.” He nodded and wished me a good day. “You too!” I said back to him over my shoulder. We kept walking, and I went back to thinking of those things I might say at the upcoming event, only now I was applying them to Solomon. Perhaps I should have told him, I thought to myself. But the moment is gone. I’ve noticed a pattern – or should I say a strategy. Whenever I step out of my comfort zone to engage with a stranger, I walk away and immediately think I should have said something different, something better. Or sometimes I think the exact opposite – I said too much. Either way the strategy is accusation after obedience. I’ve caught on, so now when it happens, I try to cut it off before it begins, with thankfulness for the encounter.
We turned the corner one block up and continued walking slowly when I noticed that same white car had pulled up across the street from and behind us. Solomon got out, crossed the street and approached me, saying in an African accent (he is from Senegal, to be exact), and an excited smile, “Chelan, I cannot help but thank you for saying hello to me.” “Oh, sure!” I stopped and replied. I was given another chance to speak to him, and this came to me, “God wants to use you in a significant way to impact the people around you – people in your sphere of influence.”
“How do you know this?” He was so intrigued. “I feel as if you may have more to say to me, from your spirit.” I replied back with a smirk, “I’m sure I do!” It was the most delightful little exchange. Then he just opened up like a flower on time-lapse. “I am going through a very hard time in my life, as my wife has left me in March. We have two girls. My 4 year old is in the car. I am having such a hard time. I cry every day. I do not believe in divorce. I feel as if there is something more in your spirit which you can say to me.”
The door could not be swung open much wider.
“There is!” I smiled. “I have the Spirit of the living God inside of me. He is a God of restoration. He makes all things new. And you feel broken because it was he who designed marriage to be an everlasting covenant. When husband and wife divorce, that covenant is broken. That is why your heart breaks. But you must contend. Do you know what that means?” “I do not.” “It means to fight for something and not give up. Be encouraged – the Lord reconciles and restores.” “But my wife”, Solomon retorted. “She is very smart. She is getting her Masters, but she is being childish, going to her parents who do not like me, and getting their advice. They do not share my religion.”
Vern, who was standing close by, kept trying to interject a remark and managed to finally speak up to share some hope from his own life, “My wife and I have been married for 47 years!”
The dark man’s daughter, whose name was Rikeah, rolled her window down and yelled, “Daddy!” obviously tired of waiting. He yelled back a desperate, “Two minutes, baby!” The clock was ticking. Time would not be wasted.
“Do you know Jesus?” I asked him urgently. “I know he was a great prophet. I am Muslim”. “Oh, well, I don’t know much about being Muslim, but I know Jesus, and to me, he is so much more than just a prophet. He is the Son of the living God who died for our sins and rose back to life. He is my EVERYTHING! I LOVE him! Would you like to know him?” “I do already know him” “No, I mean know him, like I know him. Time is short. Would you like me to pray with you?”
Solomon’s countenance clearly brightened, “Yes, please!” So I took his hand in mine and my other hand crossed over, to reach his broken heart. I had never done this before, but it seemed appropriate in the moment. I prayed something like, “Lord Jesus, thank you for your Spirit that lives in me, and I pray the same thing for my new friend, Solomon. That you would take up residence in his heart. Fill him up and give him hope for a reconciled relationship with his wife. You restore! Thank you for bringing us together like this today. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.”
Solomon hugged and thanked me. And then turned to my client, hugged and thanked him as well. And then ran back across the street to his daughter.
Vern looked at me. “Well,” he said quietly, in awe of God.
“That was a holy moment.”
You never know who will literally cross your path from day to day. If your mind is on yourself, or you are grumbling inside, you may miss an unforgettable opportunity. And even when you think you missed one, it may just swing back around. So keep your hands free. Your eyes open and your heart ready. It may be today.