Friday, September 29, 2006

Entertaining Angels Unaware

I left my home by the back door to go to the rural mail box and met a stranger coming up my sidewalk. She wanted directions because while trying to find her cousin’s home, she became lost. She didn’t say why she looked for her cousin until I pried a little.

Why did I meddle? A few days earlier, I’d asked God to place on my path someone who needed Him. I literally said, “Lord, you know my schedule this week, if someone needs hands-on care, you’ll need to bring them to my door.” So, I paid special attention to the stranger on my sidewalk, literally a few feet from my back door.

After a roadmap consultation, I sensed she had deeper needs. Modest and humble, she told me of her current struggles. God revealed several ways to help her, so I invited her into our home and we talked a few minutes and then she had to be on her way. I followed her down our sidewalk, knowing our paths might never cross again. Spontaneous, she whirled around and clenched me in a bear hug, saying “Thank you.” A chance meeting, I don’t think so.

Here’s another story about what I believe to be an “arranged” meeting. Reader Jan Tickner contacted me in response to an article several weeks ago about Robert Hamm, who on a missionary trip gave his pants to a poorer man, The column prompted a memory for her. She remembered a similar happening while on a trip with her husband, Russell, to Russia. Years ago, they went on a missionary trip into Russia and Jan said Russell, who was tall, and the tall preacher disappeared before church.

Jan thought they’d gone off to pray, but when they returned moments later, they had traded clothes. The Russian preacher had a fine made American suit, and Russell had on the preacher’s worn slacks. Jan said it’s one of her most vivid memories of her late husband—his broad smile after giving away his suit. A chance meeting of tall men, I don’t think so.

When I returned indoors after seeing Angie off, I wrote the date and her given and last name in my prayer journal. And I smiled all day. I’m still praying for Angie and still marveling at the similarity of her name and the scripture: “Don’t forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

St. Francis of Assisi once saw a leprous beggar beside the road, he stopped and put his arms around the shunned man and hugged him. He said two sensations overcame him, a sense of nausea, but also a sense of sweetness and well being. He gave of himself and expressed God’s love, even though it caused a bit of personal discomfort. A chance meeting, I don’t think so.

God trains his children’s eyes to pasture-watch. Jesus said fields, and that includes where you live, are ripe and ready for harvest. I know life gets busy. We all have different versions of the same old time-pinched schedules. Prayer can and will bring strangers who need Jesus into the crosshairs of life. Ask for an opportunity.

Then, watch. Be ready. Soon, an “Angie” may land on your doorsteps.

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