Fresh off the plane in Wake Forest.
11/6/2017 10:31:31 AM
How to extend faith, hope and love
Fresh off the Airplane in Wake Forest.
Why do we strike up conversations with strangers anyway?
Which ones are divine? (conversations, that is)
Sometimes when I fly, I seat my seat in the seat and quickly pull out a book to study or my laptop to write. But occasionally, things roll out differently . . . and I talk to my seatmates.
Such was the case on my connection from Houston to Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday. Seated between two fellows, we talked; we talked about God, we talked about faith and where each was in his life. Because we were all strangers, we three were open and honest; after all, we would never see each other again. I asked - they answered ... I listened and there was a hint of the divine in the air.
After some time, my new friend in the window seat told me his 22-year-old step son had just died from an overdose. 'Oh, no. I'm so sorry. How in the world is your wife holding up?!' Mind you, they have three more sons at home. Mama has to keep going for them ... and because I do what I do (leading and loving women in a community and pastoring in the corporate world), I just kept thinking, 'who are her people?' I mean really, how does a mother who still has to care for a five-year-old button her own shirt straight, let alone her little guy's shirt, even as her heart continues to break into pieces?! Hmmm.
Before deplaning I prayed with the aisle fellow that he and his wife would be able to have a much longed-for baby, and then gave the son's dad my business card, hoping to offer encouragement to his wife, should she be willing. I really didn't expect to hear from her.
In the ensuing days, I have been abuzz in my little people's world of fairy princesses and pirates - my two year old Alyssa and four year old Bennett. (grandbabies)
But then ... the text message came. The mama asked if we could meet, and so we did, at a quaint little coffee spot in downtown Wake Forest. I loved "Amber"1 in an instant. My heart swelled as I know that our Father's heart has as well, as he longs to hold her in his arms and give her the only comfort that brings true peace - in him and his love for her.
Once again - at that place:
the phone call comes and nothing will ever be the same,
when nothing seems to make sense,
seems like it never will again.
I can only offer what I know and have experienced: the peace of God.
Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."2
We talked a while, share a lot, and agreed to stay in contact.
When Amber left, I went up to pay for my coffee and the store owner confided she had a lot in common with the grieving mama. Quietly I said, 'I'm sorry for your pain.' She leaned over and kinda whispered to me 'But my boy is still living ... addicted to heroin.' She looked from side to side, 'See no one knows; they do not understand, and they're awfully judgmental around here.'
As she handed me change for my twenty, I looked into her hurting eyes. Knowing there is nothing more I could offer at that moment, I asked if I could pray for her boy. And so we held hands at the register, and I prayed for her and her son; prayed that God would step into his path, and that God would comfort her and grant her wisdom and peace.
As I type, I think of the heavy weight and strain 'Diane'3 is carrying as the mother of a drug-addicted child . . . the worry, the fear, the shame that is always present. To whom does she turn? Who will understand? Who will offer compassion, not judgment? And even more importantly, who will lend her their faith so Diane (or someone like her) has hope?
I can only offer what has made the difference in my life.
Here it is, Friend, at least, a start - of what I know is tried and true:
->cry out your pain to Jesus, and ask him to come and heal
**I do this in writing in a slim journal - present with my pen, in the form of a prayer from the contents of what is churning in my heart and mind. Getting it out of my head is really beneficial.
->ask God for his comfort because he brings peace
->ask to feel his presence
->ask God for his wisdom; he promises to supply it. James 1.5
--->ask him to come and do what only he can do.
He is alive! He hears and answers our prayers.
This I know: God will come, God will come and hold your heart.
Just two encounters in a world of people who pass by us, ring up our groceries or sit next to us on the soccer bleachers. Don't rush by, lend some compassion, an offer of help, and certainly when you can, offer them God's peace. Won't you?
1 - Amber - not her real name
2 - John 14.27
3 - Diane - not her real name