This morning I dropped Ruthie off at the store so she could pick up a gift for a new niece who just arrived in our family. She suggested that while I waited I might run down the street to the market and pick up a couple of items for lunch. Good plan.
In the market I headed toward the open salad bar from which I like to pick up stuff that kind of ends up looking like a ready-made salad. Quick, healthy, cheap. Good plan. But as I approached the olives and sliced beets, a lady in a store uniform approached and asked if she could help. I told her everything was fine, thank you very much.
Her response was, “Well, you just looked kind of bewildered, like you were lost.” “Really?” I asked. “We shop here often and I know right where I’m headed.” Wanting to lighten up the conversation just a bit, I said, “Besides, I’m a pastor and I spend my life trying to help people who are lost.”
I expected a chuckle in response, but instead the lady closed her eyes as huge tears rolled down her cheeks. The depth of her response surprised me. She struggled to speak, “This morning we lost Larry…we’re all devastated.” I would learn that Larry was a deeply loved member of her church, but his death was a total surprise to the congregation and they were in deep mourning. He was in his forties, healthy, and his death had stunned his friends. She had heard of it as she left home. I asked if I could pray for her, her church, Larry’s family and friends.
Right there between the cucumbers and the tomatoes, we prayed. I thanked the Lord for Larry’s influence. I asked that the Holy Spirit would fulfill His promise and be their Comforter, even in their loss, and that their hearts would be encouraged in the knowledge there was a day of reunion coming. I asked that his example might inspire others to follow the same Lord he loved. It wasn’t a long prayer; as we parted, she said simply, “The Lord sent you.”
I thought about that. In our morning prayer time Ruthie and I like to include something like, “And Lord, show us how we can help You change Your world today.” Then I thought of how the Lord had choreographed the short meeting at the salad bar. I had dropped Ruthie off several doors away, then drove to the market. I found a parking place, walked into the store and at the exact right moment met a lady who was secretly in mourning. And apparently I showed up with a befuddled look on my face prompting her to ask if she could help me.
I have faith to believe God answered our prayer for Larry’s family and his friends. And I believe He answered our simple prayer, too.
By Don Jacobsen