Have you ever had a moment of Grace come out of nowhere? You are just moving along in your day, minding your own business and all of a sudden a stranger or a friend hits you with a question or observation with such incredible depth it takes your breath away. Or a conversation in an elevator or on an airplane lifts your spirits, not necessarily because we “evangelized” or converted someone, but because something unexpected and beautiful touched your heart and moved you.
Years ago I was at a grocery store in line to pay and there was a woman about my age behind me. There was some commotion going on in the store, I can’t remember what, but our eyes happened to meet and we smiled shyly at one another. I paid, left the store and as I slowly eased my car out of my parking space, the woman accidentally stepped out behind my car, causing me to pump the break (and give me a heart attack). Our eyes met again, and recognizing each other, we both broke out into large, goofy grins. Nothing actually happened – we didn’t speak a word to each other. But something in each of us recognized a kindred spirit in the other. It was a strange moment of grace that I’ve remembered for years (and I can barely remember what I ate for lunch today).
Yesterday I had another one – this time a conversation with a stranger. When people get to talking, they sometimes admit all kinds of personal hardships. My friend from yesterday admitted to me that she had had a mental breakdown and had to be hospitalized. Now I imagine she would get all kinds of reactions to this information – many being uncomfortable with other peoples’ pain. But I’m swimming in my own brokenness so I smiled and said, “Everyone’s broken. You just had the courage to admit it and do something about it.”
This lovely stranger and I bonded over the “human condition” – she a self-described Atheist and me a practicing, God-loving Roman Catholic. I told her about how I seek spiritual direction in life, see a counselor and psychologist and that doing so has changed my life, for the better, in more ways than one. She asked about my “faith background” and whether I grew up in a faithful family – and she told me about her “interesting” parents, one being an Atheist and the other a Christian. I left her with a smile on my face and a light heart, knowing that the Lord had been present even though we didn’t specifically speak about Him.
Sure, these moments may be wordless, or only a few words – but they also might be conduits of conversion for others. When my husband and I used to train young adults to be Residence Assistants, or leaders in their dorms, one of the exercises we gave them was to write up a 3-5 minute personal testimony (their story of what the Lord has done in their lives). We would have people come and explain what a testimony was, we’d give the students examples, give them time to write their own, and then an afternoon to present their testimonies to each other. We always told them that their own personal testimony might come in handy, because you never know when you’ll need to tell the story of what God has done for you – in the few minutes you might have with someone on an elevator or airplane.
As prepared as you might be though, you can never predict when or how the Lord will show his face to you in the face of another human being. All you can do is recognize the moments that He is present as you go about your day, then smile and run with it. This moment of Grace is a blessing, not only for the person you’re with, but for you as well.
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