I wrote here about how God and I have this thing in our relationship… God and I have something that’s kind of just between us and when it happens, I know God’s lovin’ on me, showing me that He sees me and loves me and enjoys doing things that delight me. He doesn’t bring me flowers or jewelry or clothes or even lattes (though if He wanted to, I wouldn’t complain!)…God brings me random people. I know, it sounds a little odd. It kind of is, but it’s our thing.
Well, now that I’m back from Zimbabwe, I can tell you that this happened ALL. Trip. Long. And I do mean ALLLLLL. Trip. Long. – but I didn’t know that’s how it was going to be when I started writing this blog on day two of the trip. So I have a lot of good stories to tell, but the first is a funny one.
Rochelle, Craig’s teenage daughter, asked her dad in the car on the way to the airport, “Do you ever just randomly run into someone you know in the airport?” I didn’t hear Craig’s answer, but I was almost sarcastic in my “Oh yeah…” response – because it’s kind of an understatement. Not that I do run into people in the airports all that often, but just that random encounters in general are so common in my life. Don’t get me wrong, they are still completely random, but they’re frequent too. And although those things did happen in airports when I was in Texas, they haven’t happened in the past 4 or 5 years, since I moved to Colorado.
Well, we flew from Colorado to Washington, Dulles, then we were to catch a flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and then we would go on to Harare, Zimbabwe. Our middle of the night layover in Washington was just long enough however, that we decided to go to a hotel to get a few hours of sleep.
The next morning as we were leaving the hotel to catch our flight, a girl joined our shuttle. She sat beside Craig and Coletta and began to ask where they were going. She’d heard someone say Ethiopia and she was going to Ethiopia… I’m barely overhearing this. I heard Compassion International come up. We are partnering with Compassion in our conference and work in Zimbabwe. SMALL world…she WORKS for Compassion… We are on the same flight… I’m confused. I know some Compassion staff will be joining us, so for a second I think maybe she’s with our group – after all, she just got on the shuttle with us and is going on the same flight we are and works for Compassion… But no, it’s just a “random coincidence.”
And then suddenly I’m jolted with recognition. It’s soVERY much crazier than I even thought – and already it was pretty bizarrely coincidental. I had noticed her earlier in the lobby and had this fleeting thought: “she looks familiar”. I’m amazed I had any thought at all, after a week of little to no sleep (like, I probably got about 9 hours of sleep total in four days). Suddenly though, I know it. I know that I know her, barely, and from way back, but I know her.
“I think I know you.” I said. She looked back at me…she felt I was familiar too, but didn’t know why. Well, over three years ago, maybe even four years ago, we were both fairly new to Castle Rock, CO and visited the same church and for a time we were both going to the same small group. We had prayed for her job search and rejoiced when she found a job working at Compassion. I maybe saw her three or four times. Max. Over three years ago, maybe even four. And here we are, staying in the same random hotel in DC (and not the closest one to the airport either, because that one was expensive), sitting in the same random shuttle, going on the same random flight to Ethiopia… doesn’t everyone fly to Ethiopia???
I always really liked her. Of all the people in that group, she was one of the ones I most wanted to get to know, but for some reason circumstances just never really worked out (she moved out of town, for one). And here we are, reconnecting in DC on our way to Africa…and talking about hanging out in Denver, finally, after all these years. Love that girl! So excited for a renewed friendship with her!!!
“So yes, Rochelle, to answer your question: I do sometimes run into people I know in the airport – case in point!” We laughed about that. We laughed about how God seemed to get a kick out of answering Rochelle’s question, and that he did so within a matter of hours. “Any other questions?” I asked her. “Hmmmm…. so have you ever found four thousand dollars?” She immediately responds. I mean, if God’s feeling like answering her questions with live illustrations (and in the positive)…then, yeah…”You should ask God if I’ve ever met Prince Charming!” I told her.
All teasing aside, I do feel like God is just kind of showing off a little, in a good way. Showing us He loves us. He hears. He knows our questions and He enjoys answering them. I wonder too if maybe He’s setting the tone and the precedent for what is to come on this trip. I wonder how many questions He is going to answer. I wonder how He is going to surprise us and make us laugh. I wonder how many more totally “random” divine encounters are to come. I wonder how much that was for the group, and how much that was for me, personally – a little note from God, a little wink that lets me know He’s here with me, He’s supporting me on this trip and above all, He loves me. It felt like one of those great moments where everyone gets the joke, but you know there’s an inside joke as well, one that touches you and makes you laugh and wraps you in love all at the same time.
As I write this, I wonder if you have that with God too. What is your special thing with God? What is it that lets you know that He loves you and He sees you? What is it that tells you that the two of you have something special, something personal, something intimate? What is it that tells you that God just really knows you–that he GETS you??? I hope you have that thing. If not, don’t worry – it will come. I didn’t always know this was our thing. It’s like any relationship, things develop naturally over time. In fact, when my friend mentioned her moose thing with God, I remember thinking, “Huh… I wonder what ‘our’ thing is?” I honestly had no idea. It’s like a couple who realizes they don’t have a song that is “theirs”. It can make you feel like something’s wrong when you realize you don’t have a song, but sometimes those things take time to find. And you know what? Even though I didn’t know what our thing was at first, when I began to look around for it, I saw that there had been those things all along, I just hadn’t been aware of them. God was doing them-I just hadn’t seen and/or I’d taken them for granted. Now I see that he’s been romancing me and doing these little things that delight me so for years and years and years. It’s been there all along.