I believe that divine encounters happen more than we realise. By divine encounter, I mean those moments divinely set up by God where you meet a complete stranger. These encounters are often short and sweet, but leave you knowing you had an opportunity to share something of Jesus with that stranger, an opportunity which sometimes unknowingly you took.
This is exciting to me. It makes me want to pray every day for divine encounters with people, and that I would respond rightly as God would desire me to.
Two recent encounters come to mind. The first came in a café bar in the city centre; I had visited one evening with a friend to listen to a choir sing contemporary Christmas carols from around the world. Unfortunately, not everyone in the café had come with the same intention. The noise of chatter and raucous laughter filled the room and succeeded in drowning out the sound of the choir’s melody.
We were seated next to a man (looked in his 40’s) who was typing away on his laptop, seemingly unaware of the choir or the noise in the room. Suddenly he got up and asked us if we would watch his laptop for him while he went to the toilet. We agreed, he had a lovely genuine smile, and I was glad he trusted us to do that for him. On his return we soon entered into a conversation about the work he was doing on his laptop. He told us he was a life coach and a specialist in timeline therapy and hypnotherapy. This led to discussing about living a life with purpose and helping others to discover theirs. I shared about how I believed everyone had a purpose for being on this earth and that I had discovered mine through prayer. At this he stopped, looked me in the eye and asked ‘are you a Christian?’ I smiled and told him I was. The conversation continued on for a while with my evangelist friend sharing with him about her work on the streets, encouraging people in their purpose and destiny in God. The man looked intrigued and listened for a while before the conversation naturally stopped and he returned to his work.
He didn’t give his life to Christ there and then, but I felt strongly that seeds had been sown in his life. Me and my friend were smiling, warm and friendly people who were interested in his life. Maybe this man had never met Christians like us before. Maybe he was surprised that we didn’t preach at him. And maybe he thought we would’ve criticised his line of work.
But we didn’t. And I believe God will use our kindness in that meeting to trigger more divine encounters in his life. The next day I prayed for him by name (he gave me his business card), and imagined God smiling as I remembered this man and prayed for his salvation.
The second encounter was at a bus stop, with a lady laden down with shopping bags on Christmas Eve. She began to talk to me and before long I had discovered that she felt Christmas wouldn’t be the same for her this year as her parents were no longer around. ‘It’s for the grandchildren now’ she stated, with a wistful look in her eye. I became aware of the tenderness of the moment and focused on listening well. I helped her onto the bus with her bags, smiled and wished her a good Christmas. Her gratitude for such a small act of kindness was humbling.
How many more encounters do we engage in without being aware? Let’s pray and ask God for more in 2013.