One day last summer, when I had multiple appointments and several places to go, I started my day swimming at the Y. 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 my keys, I heard someone call 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. Whenever I purchased flowers, she always took time to wrap them, adding a ribbon to bind the bouquet.
Elizabeth like to talk, often complaining about working conditions. I listened to her often, but sometimes when I went to shop I was in a hurry. Since the floral department was at the store entrance, I couldn't avoid seeing her. Honestly, I was never late anywhere I was going, just delayed.
Here she was at the Y parking lot calling my name. We talked for a few minutes. She asked about the Y, and I suggested she take a tour and perhaps take a water aerobic class.
Meanwhile, I was getting restless, wondering if I would be 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 wanted 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 think 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 see.
Prayer: God, help us receive all we meet in your name, and may our words and actions reflect your love. Amen.