Is this just me, or you, too?
You round the bread aisle at Publix and see someone slightly familiar, but you’re not sure. You avoid eye contact again until you figure it out.
By the milk row, you’ve remembered: it’s a guy from high school you’d rather not bump into again. So you take a sharp right into frozen foods to avoid him. Until he ends up behind you in the checkout, at which point you become all friendly, “Oh, hi! It’s so good to see you again!”
I used to think they were chance encounters. Until I realized they were divine ones instead.
After meeting Walter Baby Love a couple years ago at Outdoor Church, I looked forward to more opportunities to see him. And I did. For awhile. I printed a picture of him singing so I could give it to him the next time I saw him.
But there wasn’t a next time. I didn’t see him at Manna House during the weekly openings or at Outdoor Church at all. I assumed he’d either gotten sick or moved away. I stopped bringing the photo with me.
So the morning of the King’s Banquet, he was not on my mind. I was circling the table where we’d soon be serving homeless men and women, praying over those who would fill the chairs. My head was down, until someone came up behind me and I turned around.
It was Walter Baby Love! He smiled; I squealed; we both hugged.
I listened to his story of where he’d been (he’s still close by after all), and introduced him to my friends. He was as delightful as ever and as eager to sing as before.
We worked out arrangements for him to sing one of his favorites songs to the dinner guests; he delivered.
As he was leaving, we hugged again, not knowing when we’d next see each other. But assured that when God wants it to happen, it will.
Maybe when we expect it; maybe when we don’t.
Unexpected encounters are only unexpected to us. God already knows. He coordinates them. They’re holy ground. And as such they need to be treasured and appreciated and lingered over.
Do I still avoid people at the grocery store? Sometimes (especially on those ballcap and sweatpants mornings), but not as often as I once would have.
I’m learning to cherish the “chance” encounters as God-encounters instead, learning to be grateful for how he moves people around me.
Because when God moves us around for encounters, there’s no “chance” about it. He’s extraordinarily intentional. May I give them extraordinary attention, too.
* * *
Other things I’ve learned from Walter Baby Love:
When have you had a chance encounter that was really a divine one?
Please share in the comments.
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