Armed with walking stick and bus pass clutched in his other hand, my man made it to the city to carry out some needful financial transactions. He’d intended catching a bus back as well but was stopped in his tracks by pain, stilled by increasing stiffness in his gait.
While he sat waiting on a bench for his brother to collect him, a group of young people paused to speak with him. In the normal run of things he runs shy of such an encounter. But something made him smile a warm welcome and maintain a receptive mind to their questions.
They asked what health problems he had, and he shared the basics: namely Parkinson’s and post-op problems after spinal surgery. Then they offered to pray for him. Yes, right there with people passing by, in an open public place.
Once again, he was surprisingly amenable rather than painfully shy. So they spoke in tongues —yes, that too—and they held hands to his head and they gave it their best shot. Did the skies turn crimson or thunder roll? Did a voice call out from heaven?
No, none of those things happened. But a small group of faithful believers answered an internal call to prayer, and a weary man’s spirits were lifted at the way God infiltrates a seemingly ordinary day with touches of His extraordinary grace.
Because God is already here. He acts all the time but we don’t often see it or sense it as acutely as this. He cares about every single aspect of our lives and sends a wave of encouragement our way just when we need it. God infiltrates each day with markers of His glorious presence.
As my husband related the story to me later, I was reminded of a heavenly kind of encounter I had a few years ago. It was in similar circumstances, with me full of pain, sitting waiting to be picked up by a relative…
A nun smiled at me today
as she walked in her muted grey
I sat stiff upon a wall
weary, trying not to fall
asleep in the sun
and waiting for collection
like a missing parcel
left behind, gone astray
lonely on its own
Her face shone radiant
as she paused a while
yet most who hurried past
with purpose and intent
simply missed her smile
but I caught its golden rays
calling to me across the swathes
of people passing by
like a benediction sigh
A touch from God above
A pouring out of grace
A glimpsed reminder
of his peace and love
warmed deep to my heart
so I fulfilled my part
with a swift rejoinder
in this face-to-face encounter
as I smiled thankful back at her
I had another strange encounter on a bus journey several years ago. A passenger who was alighting looked straight at me as she passed and told me I had the face of an angel— yes really— I was totally thrown!! Not only was I extremely exhausted that day, I was also a mess emotionally and far from smiley, never mind shiny. It seems God just wanted to alert me to His care and reveal I was still beautiful to Him, with Jesus shining through me unawares. Such grace!
Have you had encounters of the heavenly kind breaking into your day?
Is Advent a season where you expect wonder to break through?