This summer, my husband and I were enjoying our no-kids vacation, eating at a shared table in a restaurant in New York. We started talking occasionally to the couple next to us after eating their bread that was delivered to the table. (We thought it was like the chips and salsa in Texas – a warm-up for your order. I swear!) By the end, the man next to us was sharing with me about a difficult relationship in his life and a letter he was wanting to send to repair the rift. As he asked for my advice and I gave it, my husband sat dumbfounded.
My husband knows that this happens to me all the time, but he’d never been there to watch it all unfold. It’s not something that I manipulate or direct, but somehow people know that I will listen and they allow me to enter into their places of pain, doubt, and wonder with faith and hope. My kids tease me about it all the time – “Put Mom next to someone on a plane, and by the end of the flight they’ll be converted!”
I think part of it stems from a prayer that I will say occasionally. When I am flying by myself or know that I will have some time near others, I will pray that God use me for His purposes and seat me next to someone who needs Him if He wants.
The first time I prayed that way, I sat next to a man who had recently lost his wife of over fifty years. We spent the entire flight talking about his love for her, his memories of her, and just sitting in the quiet holding his sorrow and his love for her. Having worked with Alzheimer’s victims for many years, this was completely in my comfort zone. I can handle the love and the loss, and allow both of them to exist together without being overwhelmed by either one. I never saw him again, and that was fine. I had done what I was asked to do, and I was beyond blessed because of it.
We all have times that we can pull into ourselves and separate from the people around us. You know what I’m talking about – plane flights, waiting rooms, waiting for a to-go order. What if you saw those times as opportunities for God’s work to be done? What if you offered your gifts and talents for His use when you know you have the time? You won’t always be asked to do something, but when we are, I guarantee it will be powerful and you’ll be hooked