For a moment, I want you to think back on life before Covid19. Do you remember being in public with more than 10 people at a time? That feels like it was a long time ago.
When you were in a line at Starbucks, did you strike up conversations with the person behind you? At a restaurant, have you ever left your table to go and talk to people a few booths down?
My husband has never met a stranger. He makes friends everywhere we go. As a result of my introversion and sometimes being a bit awkward at small-talk, I have never been comfortable doing that.
Until the day God persuaded me to talk to a complete stranger in Yuma, AZ.
WAIT! Did I just say God persuaded me? That sounds a little weird, doesn’t it? I thought so too. Do you know what is even weirder? The fact that I argued with Him.
In March of 2009, my family and I were driving to San Diego and stopped at a Denny’s in Yuma for dinner. If you have driven from Tucson to San Diego, perhaps you have found yourself at the same Denny’s.
In the middle of ordering, I noticed a family sitting a couple of booths away, besides being aware of them, I didn’t think anything of it.
All of a sudden this feeling, this strange sense, an indescribable prompting washed over me. My heart began to race, and I recognized that the Holy Spirit was getting my attention.
Can I be really honest with you?
I didn’t want to answer the call. It was like I was a teenager and my dad’s number came up on my caller I.D. If I answered the phone he would ask me to do something that I didn’t want to do.
I knew God was up to something with this family. Should I lean into the prompting or just not respond? I didn’t feel like talking to a stranger, I just wanted to eat my Grand Slam in peace. It would have been easier to keep eating and silently pray for them.
Yet the feeling persisted, I could feel the nervousness building in my stomach.
As clearly as any thought I have ever had, these words filled my head and my heart.
“Don’t do it out of duty or obligation, do it out of My love for them.”
As a result of these words, my nerves were gone. Consequently, my eyes filled with tears out of a love that was so raw, so deep, and SOOO… did not originate from me.
The fear that I had to talk to them instantly broke off of me. It was an amazing moment with the Lord.
At that moment, I was all in.
I had the excitement that God was about to do something really cool. I found myself filled with anticipation to meet them and talk with them. But, what would I talk with them about? How would I strike up a conversation?
You can’t just walk over to their booth and say, “Wow, God loves you all so much, I can feel it!” I mean I could have, but that would have been really weird and may have involved the police.
So, I prayed quietly.
Over the course of a few minutes not only did I continue to feel an amazing love for each of them, but I also had a sense that there was a very important call on the life of the little boy who sat in the high chair.
In addition, I felt that they have sacrificed a lot for this particular child and that the Lord was going to bless them abundantly through the work He would be doing in the lives of their children. They could be in peace knowing that it would be worth all of the sacrifices they have made.
I have never met these people before in my life!
They had two sweet little boys, one in the booth eating pancakes and one in the high chair stirring cheerios on his tray. All I knew was what I could see with my eyes. Yet I felt like God was prompting me to tell them what I was feeling.
Like a fast download, the thought came, “Ask them if they are in ministry.” “If they say yes, you know the feeling you have is accurate.”
I can do that!
In reality, I thought, when they say, “No” and look confused, I can just tell them that I thought they were someone else, and at least I tried. Awesome. That is how much confidence I had in what was taking place in the middle of that Denny’s.
After finishing our dinner, I pondered how I was going to explain this to my husband?
I know! After I get the kids buckled in the car, I will go back into the restaurant real quick.
After buckling my kids in I turned around only to be FACE TO FACE in the parking lot with the husband of the family. We were parked next to each other and he was retrieving a diaper bag from his car at the same moment we were leaving.
My heart raced as I said, “Excuse me, sir, are you by chance in ministry?” He said, “Actually, yes, we were laypeople in the church and just recently accepted a paid position.”
What did he just say? Whoa.. here we go…
I proceeded to tell him that I was learning how to hear from the Lord and that I felt Him tell me that there was a very important call on the life of the little boy who sat in the high chair.
In addition, I felt that they had sacrificed a lot for this particular child and that the Lord was going to bless them abundantly through the work He would be doing in the lives of their children. In essence, they could be in peace knowing, it would be worth all of the sacrifices they’ve made.
After I finished, I said, “Does that mean anything to you?”
The man’s eyes began to well up with tears. He pinched the brow of his nose between his two fingers and said, “Thank you, thank you so much.”
He began to tell me that even though they all looked related, the little boy in the high chair was adopted.
His wife had spent a lot of time in Africa trying to adopt him and when they thought it was settled she spent an additional 2 weeks there fighting for him.
Now, my eyes were filled with tears.
After hearing his story, they had indeed sacrificed a lot to have that little boy in their family. We talked for a couple of minutes and then he stopped and said, “I need to go tell my wife what just happened.” We said goodbye and parted ways.
That day, God allowed me to encourage that family and to trust His voice. He was answering a prayer that I have repeated over and over again, “Lord, show me Your heart for those around me.“
The thing we yearn for deep within our hearts is often just outside our comfort zone.
I will never know the impact those words had on that family. I do know, that if I hadn’t stopped and taken that chance, I would have missed a life-changing opportunity to encounter God’s heart.
As believers, Jesus has already reclaimed our story.
We have the privilege of showing others it is possible for them, through Christ. Right now, during Covid19 we may be 6 feet apart, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reach out to love others.
We love because He first loved us.1John4:19
As you drive into your neighborhood, perhaps there is a house that seems to be highlighted to you. You have thought about saying hello, but it just never seemed like the right time. What if that time is now?
Maybe you have a relative that you have been thinking of in the back of your mind for a while. Yet, you haven’t picked up the phone or written an email. I want to encourage you to follow through on your prompting to reach out.
What if… God wants to encourage someone, love someone through you today? There is nothing like the moments when you wonder if it is your thought or God’s and you abandon your fears and step out.
Staying 6 feet a part doesn’t mean we have to be distant.
Here are 6 ways to bring us closer.
1. Text someone you have not talked to in a while, just to tell them you are thinking of them.
2. Encourage a mom who has just started homeschooling for the first time, let her know her kids don’t need perfection, they only need her.
3. Pick up the phone, be specific and tell someone a unique attribute that you see in them.
4. When someone expresses on social media that they are struggling, pray and share life-giving words with them.
5. Send a handwritten note to someone.
6. When you feel a prompting that will result in someone being encouraged and feeling loved, step out.
“Don’t do it out of duty or obligation, do it out of My love for them.”
When we look back on this time, let’s remember the love that we shared with others and the trust we put in God.