What if the things that we label as random coincidences in life actually were divine appointments from God? Our day seemed like it couldn’t have been more complete, but God upstaged all of our plans with one of His. With bellies full of jumbo sea scallops and and eyes satisfied with a beautiful view of the river running through Harrisburg, PA, my friend and I decided we would forge forward in our much needed girls-day-out.(We had just spent the last few hours moving my things from Northern Virginia to Mechanicsburg, PA. )
After pulling away from the restaurant a “coincidence” happened. We made a wrong turn. Even with my beloved Australian man guiding me along the way, his demand to “recalculate” through the GPS speaker didn’t seem to help. There was no turning back now. I, along with my friend, was on a date with destiny.
I made a sharp left when I could, and I ended up on street that reminded me of Sesame Street. The little brownstone houses with the steps. Kids jumping rope on the sidewalk. Parents sitting on their porches sipping out of bright colored plastic cups. Amid the archetypal neighborhood and iconic picture of what a family weekend used to be, my attention was drawn toward a little girl walking down the sidewalk in front of her family home. She appeared to be wearing clothes designed for a woman her mother’s age because they didn’t make kid’s clothes in her size. Not only did she fit into these woman’s clothes but she had the the walk of woman burdened with the sufferings of life. She already had a story and she was only nine or ten years old.
In the ten seconds it took to pass her, my heart was undone. In those ten seconds, her life flashed before my eyes and somehow I knew that if God didn’t intersect her life, she would never know her purpose and would never fulfill it. I saw the sadness that her physical predicament would bring her, and I saw the suicidal thoughts and depression that would one day overshadow her if she didn’t come to God’s intersection. All this happened because of my making the wrong turn and having to recalculate.
Now, I don’t have this response every time I pass by a kid on the, shall we say, more chubby side. I, too, was one of those kids in school. I empathize with their struggle, and so does God. For some reason, yesterday, I had to see and feel what this young girl would one day see and feel if things didn’t change, and I wouldn’t find out the reason why for several more hours.
A church service, some late night diner eats, and purchasing the movie tickets had all happened right on schedule. It seemed there would be no time for any more “coincidences.” Then, at the last minute, my friend and I decided that it would be best to use the ladies’ room before the movie. Little did we know, but we were about to have another “coincidence.” Upon entering the ladies’ room, I was astounded at who I saw. At the sink washing her hands, was the little girl I had seen four hours earlier in a neighborhood that was a fifteen minute drive from where I was standing now.
I quickly went into one of the stalls. Somehow, in my walk with God, I’ve learned that when something like this happens twice, it’s probably for a reason. I asked Him what I should say to her. He said, “Tell her that she is one of the most beautiful young ladies that you have ever seen.” My first thought was…’How am I going to tell her that without looking like a weirdo in a movie theatre bathroom?’ I watched her go out the door and I said nothing.
Then, I couldn’t resist. I had to obey. I rushed out the door to find her, and the words of wisdom came to me as I saw her rejoin her grandmother. I decided that I was to announce God’s words of affirmation over her in the presence of her family. I walked over to them, and asked the grandmother if this young girl was her grand-daughter. She said yes, and I immediately shared these words: “You should be so proud of your grand-daughter. She is one of the most beautiful and polite young ladies whom I have ever seen. I just thought that she should know this and you should know this.” Without hesitation, a huge grin plastered itself across the young girl’s face as well as that of her grandmother’s. With a “Have a good night!” I was on my way into the theatre.
As I walked to my seat, I heard the Lord say, “The enemy has plans for people, but you have the power to intersect people’s lives with my plan. That one sentence that you proclaimed over that young girl’s life reversed the collision course she was on with the enemy’s plan.” Imagine if we, with Christ in us Hope of Glory, allowed ourselves to be that “intersection” where people can meet the Father. What if the circumstances that we write-off as “accidents” and “coincidence” were treated more tenderly and with care? His voice many times is so”still” and “small” that we fail to listen. I want to be someone who doesn’t require God to yell if He wants to be heard. I want to hear His word and do it even when He whispers.
This event reminded me of the “still” and “small” voice I heard in a grocery store a few months ago. In Loudoun County, Virginia, if anything is going to happen, it better happen fast, and nothing was happening fast on that particular evening at the local grocery store. We all know the feeling of being in a store with ten people in line and one cashier. After we get done debating whether that one gallon of milk is really crucial when it requires waiting behind a women juggling a cart full of popsicles, Lunchables, diapers and three kids, we may decide to feel sorry for the poor cashier who is underpaid and over-worked.
It was on this particular night that I stood in line with six or seven of Loudoun County’s most “patient” citizens. While they were glaring from the cashier, to their watches, to their carts of food and back to the cashier, I stood back and watched the scene unfold. Not in a judgemental way. As already explained, I too, had been in their shoes, but that night, I decided to take things in strides.
I had nowhere to be, but apparently the woman behind me did. After a long dissertation of how a grocery store should always have at least two checkout lanes open, she asked me what time it was. I replied, with a big grin only God could give out for such circumstances, “I have no idea what time it is. But you know what that means don’t you?” The lady irritatingly replied “What?” I said, “It means we are on vacation. Nobody ever knows the exact time it is when they are on vacation. Lets enjoy this vacation together.” This comment was sealed with a hearty laugh. And it wasn’t the woman’s. She didn’t know what to make of me, and I didn’t know what to make of myself. I wondered what God had done with the “real Tara” who could just have easily found herself tapping her foot and looking at her watch.
The woman and I struck up a conversation to pass the time. She began to express her desire to return to the teaching profession, and I was able to give her some advice about transitioning back to teaching. After finding out that I am a teacher in Loudoun County, she was that much more intrigued with my advice. She then declared, “I think you were a sign to me tonight. I am supposed to teach again.” As I walked to the car, I heard the Lord say, “You are always supposed to a be a sign of Me to others. What she spoke was true.”
We are all called to be a sign. God will paint the image on the sign, but we are called to make sure the passers-by can see it. Sometimes we will be a sign that says “Stop” or “Caution.” Sometimes we will be one that says “Make a U-turn” or “Reduce Speed Ahead.” Sometimes our sign will say “You are one of the most beautiful and polite young ladies I have ever seen.” But no matter what He puts on the sign, we have the blessed opportunity of staking the sign at the intersections of people’s lives, and watching God help people “recalculate.”