One day last summer, when I had multiple appointments and several places to go. I started my day swimming at the YMCA. I went early hoping to get in and out quickly, but every time I tried to slip out the door, I kept seeing people I knew and wanted to greet each one.
Finally reaching the exit, I pushed open the heavy door and crossed the parking lot. As I neared my car and reached for the keys, I heard my name.
Noticing someone from a distance, but unable to recognize, I walked closer to the sound of the voice and saw Elizabeth, a former employee at the grocery store down the street from where I live. Elizabeth worked in the floral department. When I made a purchase, she always took time to wrap the flowers carefully, adding a ribbon to bind the bouquet.
Elizabeth liked to talk, often complaining about working conditions at the store. I listened to her often, but sometimes when I went to shop, I was in a hurry and didn't want to take time to visit. Since the floral department was at the store entrance, I couldn't avoid seeing her. In all honesty, I was never late to anywhere I was going, just delayed.
Here she was at the Y calling my name. We talked for a few minutes. She asked about the Y and I suggested she take a tour. Meanwhile I was getting restless, worrying about being late for my 9:30 art class.
Finally she said, "I think it was a God thing I saw you today."
Oh, my! I did not think seeing her was a God thing for me because I w anted to make sure I was prompt for my class. Her perspective was different than mine.
I made it to my art class and to other commitments, but I kept thinking of my conversation with Elizabeth. I was disturbed because she thought seeing me was of God and I thought seeing her was a delay.
I asked God to forgive my impatience and help me manage my time more wisely when I had a full agenda.
I was thankful Elizabeth regarded seeing me as part of God's design for her day. She didn't explain why, but I noticed a few weeks later, she had joined the Y and was participating in one of the popular water aerobics classes.
Perhaps she was hesitant to enter an unfamiliar building or self-conscious because exercise had not been part of her life. Seeing a familiar face and receiving my encouragement must have been exactly what she needed to enroll.
We never know when we leave the house who we will encounter or how we will be perceived by those we meet.
Prayer: God, help us receive all we meet in your name and may our words and actions reflect your love. Amen.