Chuck Flewelling Photography (used with permission)
A CHANCE ENCOUNTER? I THINK NOT!
Earlier this week Glyn and I had a couple of hours free so we decided to take our Golden-doodle dog and go for a walk in a beautiful park a few miles away. This park is well appointed with prize winning rose gardens, flowerbeds of every kind, lovely shaded trees to picnic under, a pond with a variety of wild ducks and a resident flock of Canadian geese. Added to this beauty are walking trails and biking trails. Our fall colors are just starting to make their appearance with a few trees sporting their brilliant leaves before they take on their drab winter attire. We walk in this particular park as often as we can; along with dozens of other nature enthusiasts.
Driving to the park Glyn and I had been talking about the deep heart-ache he carries as result of losing his job as a Hospice Chaplain; all because of the unfounded decision of a vindictive individual. We had made the comment to each other that it would seem that our days of “ministry” have come to a close. Once we arrived at the park we slipped the leash on Flossie, brushing away our conversation of a few minutes before, determined to enjoy the beauties of God’s creation and the warm fall sunshine.
Flossie loves going for walks and generally attracts attention, especially from children, as she is very fluffy with a constant happy wag of her long tail. Adults and children alike are amazed at her silky soft curly hair and her loving nature, so she often is a catalyst for interesting conversations with complete strangers.
We had been walking for about ten minutes when three children came running up to us asking permission to pat our dog. Their mortified parents were trying to catch up with them and began to apologize for the children interrupting our walk. We laughed and told them that this was par for the course when we walk Flossie. Flossie sat lapping up the love and cuddling that she was receiving from the children. The parents then made the comment that the children were missing their pets as they were presently staying at the local Ronald MacDonald House while their son was in the Hospital. This information immediately opened a door of opportunity for us to reach out in compassion to the family. The parents hurt in their hearts began to bubble over like a pent up fountain that had found an escape route. Their son was struggling with a medically diagnosed disorder that was bringing a rift in their extended family and even scorn from the church they attended. They shared that they stopped attending church because they were being told their son “just needed deliverance”; these unkind comments had been like daggers to their souls. Instead of the Body of believers surrounding this couple with love and support they simply heaped condemnation on their heads. Glyn and I could see that their hurt ran deep and knew they needed some tangible comforting. Without a second thought, we began to share with them totally oblivious that we were standing on a walking trail with other visitors walking continually past us. The spot we stood had become a sacred place for this couple to have an encounter with the “all accepting” love of God. Tears began to flow as Glyn shared that their son was not a stigma that needed to be hidden away and that God loved him as much as He loved their three healthy children. The husband kept saying, “God brought you people to the park today just for us”! Before we parted with no thought of who might see, we held hands, prayed with them then assured them that God had not abandoned them or their son. The couple headed back to visit their son and we continued our walk with grateful hearts.
Do you think for one minute that this was a chance encounter? ABSOLUTELY NOT! God’s timing was perfect right down to that path we chose to walk on.
Think about it; if we had been walking without our loveable fluffy Golden-doodle dog we might have passed this couple with a polite nod. God knew that Flossie would attract the children which in turn would bring the parents to “rescue” us from our uninvited little fans! God was intrinsically involved in each step that we took that afternoon.
God gave us the opportunity to minister to a hurting family but at the same time He was gently reminding Glyn and me that our “ministry years” are far from finished!
Let me challenge you in your daily walk. All around each one of us are hurting people, may we ever keep our eyes, ears and hands ready to reach out and share God’s love.
When Jesus walked this earth’s dusty paths He was constantly reaching out in compassion to those around Him. Peter in his Epistle also teaches this same principle:
1 Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV) Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
REMEMBER: WE DON’T MEET PEOPLE BY ACCIDENT; THEY ARE MEANT TO CROSS OUR PATH FOR A REASON!
Credits: Photo by Chuck Flewelling Photography. Used with permission.