Recently, while catching up with a dear friend at Starbucks during a trip to Scottsdale, I shared about a divine appointment I had on my flight over.
"I believe each of us have divine appointments everyday," she responded.
I had to agree. The problem is, I don't always recognize these encounters. Or, when I do recognize one, it may be inconvenient or feel awkward. There are times, however, when there can be no doubt God has creatively redirected my steps to put me at the exact right place, at the exact right time.
This happened a few weeks ago, on my walk along the San Diego Bay. That day, I took my usual route. I passed sailboats and yachts, vendors and artists displaying their wares, and quaint seaport shops and restaurants. Suddenly, I stopped. There beside me, in a picturesque setting, stood a bright, green-headed mallard.
The scene demanded a picture. I opened my photo app, and took the shot. As if on cue, my model waddled away. So did other joggers and walkers who had stopped to watch the statuesque duck. All except one.
A runner stood beside me. Beautiful. Bronzed. Brazilian. She commented she too often took pictures of the ducks. She didn't move. An awkward silence. Then, awareness. This was not about ducks.
So, I did what I do. I began to ask her questions: Where are your from? What do you do? Do you live nearby? Do you have family? My questions led to a story of broken dreams, children, loss, fears, faith, God's promises, and tears. We moved from the middle of the boardwalk to a seat on the seawall. There we sat. I prayed. She cried. We hugged. She was grateful.
Many divine appointments are that way. Short. Sweet. Sufficient. I am surprised when they happen. I am disappointed when they don't. In fact, one place I have come to expect them is when I travel. So, I was sad last month, when I flew to Scottsdale on a nearly empty plane.
Every middle seat was empty. Next to me, in the window seat, was a business man, asleep. Beside me, and one row back, was a single dad with two energetic little boys. It was a late flight. Dad was weary. I hadn't intended to be on that flight. My original ticket was on another airline, an earlier flight. At the last minute, I received a buddy pass. So there I sat, late at night. Empty seats. Sleeping passengers. Rowdy little boys. Occasionally, I tried to offer a distraction to the wild boys or a word of encouragement to their dad. "You're doing a great job…Hang in there…Don't give up."
"I gave up two years ago." I barely heard his words. Out the small window, I could see twinkling lights as our plane approached the city. I didn't have much time.
"Lord, is this a divine appointment? Do you want me to say something to this weary, hurting dad? Lord, give me your words to encourage him." I prayed. The tires hit the ground, as the brakes slowed-to-a-stop the huge, metal bird.
I turned to the man. I asked him questions about the boys, his hurt, their mom. The pilot's voice intruded. We had to wait on the tarmac for a gate to become available. More time. I shared the most valuable parenting tips I could think of. Words I hoped would fan faith, hope and strength into someone who seemed to have lost most of his.
We arrived at the gate. Seat belts off. Cell phones on. Bags gatherered. The passengers filed out one by one, I had one last message. "What is your name?….You will be in my prayers!"
He smiled. The worry lines on his face evident. "Thank you. We need them."
Divine appointments. Have you recognized them in your day? My friend is right, they are all around us. Each of us encounter them everyday. An opportunity from God to offer someone a word of encouragement, our prayers, or simply a hug or a smile.
Galatians 6:9-10 says, Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone.
Lord, please open our eyes to see the people you put into our path everyday. Let us risk stepping out in faith and love, when inconvenience and awkwardness would hold us back. Let us be a blessing in someone's life today!