Late, I'm going to be late, was the phrase bandying about my head as I clomped down the pavement from the house into the city. I was meeting up with a friend and was running behind schedule.
I reached the High Street and weaved in and around the slow moving throng.
Finally, I reached the cascading fountain at the city center - where I was to meet up with my friend. I was quite pleased with my efforts as I had an extra minute to spare, so I sat down on an empty iron bench, sufficiently winded and my feet slightly angry from their forced exertion.
As I sat there, my head reeled a bit from the sudden shift from constant movement-to-standstill after 25 minutes of speed-walking.
I gulped in crisp, autumnal air and eventually the earth took on a more steady keel.
Swerving back and forth, I tried to spy my friend, imagining her smiling face on every fuzzy human form before they came into focus and proved me wrong.
I wondered if she was running late and felt through my skirt pocket for my phone to check if she'd messaged me. My heart temporarily skidded to a halt.
No phone. Aghhh aggravations!
It was very unlike me to leave the house without the thing and I kind of sat there a little stunned at my idiocy. Of all the times not to have it!
I sat there and let my eyes travel up the face of the clock tower. It was now five after.
Well, either she was running a bit late or she forgot.
Okay God, where are you in this situation? Did you really mean for me to waste my time in coming all the way into the city to miss this appointment?
Jeanine, isn't this what you are always asking Me for?
A crispy leaf flitted past my feet.
Um...huh? I dont understand. Is that really you God?
A little girl posed by the fountain in front of me as her delighted mother snapped a photo.
Nah, probably just me…
I took stock of my immediate surroundings and enjoyed the kaleidoscope of life that danced before my eyes. It was a flurry of people fulfilling personal errands and tasks with no time to spare.
Someone sat down next to me.
I admit my immediate, ungracious thoughts went something like this:
Come on now, bench intruder... There are like 5 other free benches (!!) in the vicinity, why did you have to choose mine??
I snuck a peak.
It was a Sikh man, probably in his mid-forties with a raven black beard and turban. He was bundled in a camel-colored coat with a purple scarf wrapped tightly around his neck against the chill air.
One of the aspects I love about living in England and in particular in this city is the incredibly multi-cultural demographic. It is truly fascinating.
God nudged my heart again. Are you available right now in this moment?
Ohh okay, right!! Yes!! Sorry, I'm a bit slow to catch on this morning.
I felt like I should start a conversation and just see if God was wanting to say anything through it... so I turned and made a thoroughly British comment -something about the weather. He smiled widely and asked me where I was from, recognizing my "foreign" accent. A very useful conversation starter :)
We started talking and I found out he was up from London waiting to meet a client here in the city to give them an astrology reading (of all things!)
It was definitely a God-driven conversation and I was able to ask him about his life. And then when he asked me why I was in the country it provided me an opportunity to share a bit about what I was doing here... I heard some of his confusion about what we believe as Christians ... He said he didn't know too much about Jesus but believed He was a "good man" (always an interesting view given Jesus' claims)
I was able to share simply about Jesus and tried to bring the Gospel in a context that he could relate to. He was very open to hear and in the end I was able to pray a blessing over him - that Jesus would make himself real to him and that he would experience Truth in his life. He thanked me afterwards with a jolly smile and said he was glad to have met and then set off to meet his client.
I scanned the area once more, now realizing I wasn't here to meet up with my friend today, like I originally thought as it was well past our meeting time.
You know, I often tell God, I want to be available for him to use me wherever I am, but often forget that this means I have to be intentional about looking - actively - for opportunities that may intersect along my path.
It's so easy to take the natural -comfortable route. The it's-Saturday-and-I-cant-be-bothered route.
It can be time consuming to stop and risk making fool of myself…to have a change in plans that could take who knows how long...
But I wonder how many opportunities I've missed that initially seemed like random mundane encounters and actually the Holy Spirit was giving me an opportunity to be His Salt and Light.
This encounter was a good reminder for me not to despise these moments. To look for the Divine in every situation.
God weaves His tale of redemption through nature, and through history, and through all of our lives.
I am honored to be a part of this journey and to bear the precious name of Jesus.
Here's hoping to take advantage of all the "coincidences" and chance encounters and remember to keep asking Holy Spirit, are you wanting to do something here?
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Keep shining bright my friends :)