“This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”— 1 John 3:11
Last week I went to sketch in a local bakery.
As I settled into the table covered by a red-checkered table cloth, I breathed in the sweet air. Smells of cakes and creams and donuts wafted up my nostrils. While the temperatures plummeted outside, I sat, cozy inside, enjoying the sunshine and soft music, and I sketched away. I sketched a wedding cake sample, a man in a red jacket, my almond tart in front of me, the cake display case, and a few customers. As I was finishing up, I looked up from my sketch book (I get in the zone) and noticed a gray-haired woman with dark eyeliner sitting at the table next to me. She faced me and our eyes met. She asked me what I was doing, and I opened to a page of sketched squirrels. “Sketching,” I replied. I showed her the squirrels and rabbits I had sketched over Christmas and we began swapping stories of squirrels, how they get into bird feeders, types of squirrels, which led to a discussion on wild turkeys in her yard, deer, and several other subjects. After a bit, I bundled up and went out into the cold thinking I’d never see her again.
Two days ago I entered the same bakery with some sketching friends. And who was behind the counter? The gray-haired lady I had met! She wore an apron and welcomed us to the store. I asked her name (Mary), and reminded her we had talked about squirrels, and she remembered me. Throughout the morning, Mary gave us excellent customer service, serving up our treats, giving us cups for coffee, and replenishing our cups. She even fixed up a plate of 4 donut varieties for us to sketch, as long as we promised not to eat them!
I felt gratitude for her kind treatment of our group, since I had assumed last week that she was “just a customer”. My encounter with her stayed with me this week as I reflected on how we often get an impression of others and yet, they may be totally different from our impression. To me, she was a customer at a table, talking about squirrels, but in fact, she was an employee at the bakery and gave my group excellent service. Quite unexpected.
God enters our lives in the unexpected. Jesus came to us as a baby in a stable, and many missed Him as the Messiah because they were looking for a king. Kindness, compassion, understanding, encouragement, love—-these are the hallmarks of God’s care for us, provided by others. We often take it for granted, and don’t realize how God works, but I am convinced He works through people—whether it’s that kind gate agent who puts our airline seat next to a loved one, a person who helps us when we are lost, a friend with a listening ear, a stranger who offers a seat to us on the train or bus. God uses the unexpected events of our lives to reveal Himself.
How might you see Him working in your life today? And how might He use you to show the unexpected to others?
Prayer—“Gracious God, many times you are right there in my life and I don’t see it. Open my eyes to your presence in the unexpected moments of my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”