close encounters of the heavenly kind



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?

18 thoughts on “close encounters of the heavenly kind

  1. Oh Joy, I am praising my Lord, along with you, for the way He broke into your days! What a blessing for your husband to have an encouraging touch from the Holy Spirit in the middle of pain and weariness. Isn’t it such a beautiful wonder when God peels back the curtain and sends us a glimpse into the Heavenly? Thank you for your beautiful flow of words that brought me right there with you, into the “pouring out of grace.” You lifted my spirit today, in the hearing of your words, and in the asking to remember my own times of Heavenly wonder too. My short-sighted eyes can too easily forget those moments, but they need to be savored again and again, bringing me into God’s Praise more and more! You are such a blessing to me, friend! xoxo

    • Bettie, I love how you’ve described such encounters as times when “God peels back the curtain and sends us a glimpse into the Heavenly.” It certainly does feel like a thin veil lifting, an invitation to taste Mystery. I’m so thankful to have been able to bless and encourage you, sweet friend! How easily we tend to forget or lose these moments in the mists of time. I agree they “need to be savoured again and again” to appreciate them to the full. May God bring you more beautiful God-incidences and glimpses of the eternal etched into the everyday. xoxo

  2. “He cares about every single aspect of our lives and sends a wave of encouragement our way just when we need it.” Yes, He does, so often, and we can easily miss the little things, so He sometimes really gets our attention like the person who said you looked like an angel. 🙂 He knows what we need and so lovingly sends encouragement.

    I had a similar experience while at a conference last year. I couldn’t get into my room bc it was being cleaned so I sat on a bench by the elevators, waiting and reading. I felt a little bit alone, because I had not come with anyone to the conference. An blogging friend I had finally met in person the night before, stopped to talk as she was passing by and out of the blue said, “Gayl, you are beautiful.” It was totally unexpected, but she just wanted to encourage me. She said she believed we should tell people what we are thinking, not just keep it to ourselves, even if it might feel awkward. I don’t know if she realized how God used her to boost my spirits at that time.

    Joy, I loved your poem, and I’m sure the nun was also blessed by your return smile. 🙂 Many blessings to you, dear Joy. I’ll say it again that I’m so glad we “met” online and pray that God continues to grow our friendship. Maybe one day we’ll actually meet. Who knows? xo

    • Gayl, I love the way God lifted your heart through those sweet words! Your friend is right, we really should be speaking out encouragement into the lives of others, especially of the God-prompted kind. Who knows what impact it would have if we were extra sensitive to His voice and obedient in obeying those inner promptings? Encouragement coming when we need it is a beautiful gift of grace. Though we may not be aware just how much the recipient needs to hear kind words, receive a smile or a gentle touch to show we care. Those young people who prayed for my husband may have been quite nervous as they approached him, but their hearts were steadfast in answering God’s call. May we do likewise, my friend! I’m so glad to ‘know’ you too. xo

    • Such heavenly encounters lift our world-weary spirits and direct our gaze heavenwards. We could all use a reminder of God’s gracious presence with us, couldn’t we? I’m so pleased to see you here, June, and to know these stories have spoken to you. May you have a Happy Thanksgiving and an awe-filled JOYful Advent season, sweet friend! xo

  3. These beautiful stories of God’s touches of grace when you and your husband needed it strengthen my heart today, Joy. God watches over us so tenderly, doesn’t He? I’m trying to open my eyes more to those “markers of His glorious presence” He fills our days with. Thank you. Have a blessed week! Hugs!

    • Oh Trudy, how lovely to hear how your heart was strengthened by reading these words! Yes, God cares for us so tenderly and watchfully. The small glimpses of grace we are made aware of are signs of His manifest concern and caring overseeing of every aspect of our lives from cradle to grave. May you see and sense His presence with you more fully in the days ahead and be comforted by His tremendous love for you. Blessings and hugs! xox

  4. Joy, Joy!! How blessed I am to have come by and had the privilege to read these encounters with God in the midst of life, pain, and waiting for rides. I love how God works. Your words of how “God infiltrates…” oh He does and that word fits so well. I can just see the timeless infiltration through every ounce of life. He is the Living Water and yeast in the bread mixture that just flows and oozes into that which He calls it to. I shall be pondering this for a while. Praising God for you, my friend.

    • Linda, I love how you describe God’s infiltration into our days as “Living Water and yeast in the bread mixture that just flows and oozes into that which He calls it to.” Such a beautiful thought! I shall be pondering that for the rest of this week as we stir our hearts into gratitude with every remembrance of His tender loving care. Thank you so much for being here. I thank God for you, my friend. xo

  5. What a cool story. I remember taking youth on a trip and meeting a young woman and her parents. We learned this young woman was battling cancer. The kids and I prayed for her right then and there. So much THIS: “God infiltrates each day with markers of His glorious presence.”

    • Tara, my heart lifted on hearing your cool story! How lovely to be a part of bringing God’s goodness and grace to bear on that young woman’s challenging life. May you continue to live with open heart, open hands and minister God’s love to those in need of your deeds and your prayers. ❤

  6. These stories are lovely. It is beautiful when God gives us these little encouragements and reminders of his grace, and it reminds me to slow down and notice people so that God can use me to bless someone else, because even a smile or a small word of encouragement can make a big difference to someone’s day.

    • Hi Lesley, thanks for stopping by! It’s good to know you’ve been inspired by this post. And it’s so true that “even a smile or a small word of encouragement can make a big difference to someone’s day.” Amen, friend! May you continue to be a sweet means of encouragement and blessing to others. xo

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