an{encounter}with the living God.

internal-compass

It was only a moment. Actually, only about 15 minutes of time spent at a random gas station in Alabama.

I noticed them when we pulled in; a family with young children traveling together, picnicking out of the back of their car. The kids, running around like they’d been cooped for miles.

A woman I assumed must be their mother stood nearby yelling and fussing when they strayed too far.  I remember those days.

I can’t help it.

God has me trained to tune in like this….to take in a scene and feel it with all my senses. Seldom can I go anywhere anymore and tune out the world around me. Sometimes it’s overwhelming and I think it’s a bit like what Jesus must have felt which caused him to retreat to mountains and gardens and wilderness.

My crew had headed inside to stretch and browse around the station store so I busied myself with the scraping of bug carnage off the windows and headlights for the final leg of our journey.

That’s when I noticed the family again, this time coming from the store towards the truck parked next to ours. As I washed, the young woman began to do the same and I felt that now familiar impulse to speak to her and step into her story for just a moment.

We both took turns dipping the wash wand and scrubbing away, I joked that I probably needed to go ahead and finish the whole van now. She laughed and replied that it wouldn’t do her much good; living on a dirt road her truck stayed dirty.

Rounding the front of the van I began working on the headlights and that’s when I noticed her tag: a specialty gold-star tag in remembrance of a fallen soldier. Adding together all the details: a young mother traveling with two rambunctious children…I assumed this was her husband.

What could I say? What should I say? Should I even say? What if_____?

I tried to fight against the question rising to my lips, but by now, I know it’s useless. No, this is why I’m here. I needed to trust and obey and go with it.

So, bracing myself for whatever answer might come I asked, “Who’s the tag for?”

Slightly surprised, she looked up from her task and said, ” It’s my brother. He was killed in action serving in Iraq 6 years ago.”

Unwilling to let this moment pass and fill with awkward silence, I offered my apologies for her family’s loss and that’s when an older woman walked around the back of the truck to check on her progress.

Instantly, I knew:  this is his mother.  A face worn with grief and shoulders slumped  beneath the weight of a burden she still carried. I knew her pain this day, this Veterans Day, was as fresh as it was on that day 6 years ago when she first received the news of her son.

I felt it.

As she turned the corner, I noticed she was wearing dog tags around her neck; his dog tags.

With no hesitation this time I asked permission to see them and as she lifted them to show me this piece of her boy; his name, rank and serial number, I offered the only thing I had: the compassion of Christ.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “Thank you and God bless you.” And I hugged her.

We both knew there was nothing more to be said and turning away to our own vehicles, we continued on our separate journeys.

The truth is, in those moments, no great problems were solved and no deep wounds were healed.  Those few minutes couldn’t even begin to touch the hurt this mother had been carrying… around her neck and in her heart these 6 long years.

But I’ve learned that isn’t the point of these encounters… that isn’t my role.

I can solve no problem and I can heal no one. Only from such as I have, am I expected to give. All I have to give is the love of Jesus which was given to me in the same ways and Who came to be present through us in  moments like these.

{Jesus came to be God’s presence
through us everywhere we go}

All I can give to moments like these is the gift of being seen…to let another feel His love and compassion for just a moment and to know they are not alone. To be touched by Him even if they do not yet know Him. I don’t need to know more than this: I only need to know Him.

This woman needed to be seen and I pray, she saw Jesus….I know I did.

It was only a moment.

Seriously, only about 15 minutes spent at a random gas station in Alabama. But in that brief moment of earthly time, our timeless God of creation cracked open the universe to allow His spirit to intersect and connect with two complete strangers.

Because, that’s where He is.

[Dear Reader…where has He called you to open the eyes of your heart and step into the story of another? Share with us in the comments below.]

Happily linking up with —–>

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0 thoughts on “an{encounter}with the living God.

  1. I’m SO GLAD I’m your neighbor at God bumps today- your story is stirring something deep within me- a knowing that needed words. I love how you remind me of this simple yet forgotten truth— “I can solve no problem and I can heal no one. Only from such as I have, am I expected to give. All I have to give is the love of Jesus which was given to me in the same ways and Who came to be present through us in moments like these.” In a world that seems to be losing face to face contact and trading it in for facebook or twitter moments, I love the idea of just stepping into a moment in order to let Jesus BE there. Thank you for this amazing thought today.

    1. Absolutely Alicia! Thank you so much for your encouragement and you are so right…we NEED to be bolder in our love and witness….the same way Jesus saw people==he had to “go out of the way” to meet that person..we are sent to do the same. If we could somehow see life as an invitation and instruction to purposely BE there as His representative…here is where real living for Christ begins. Bless you!

  2. I am so blessed to have read this Loretta. I have goosebumps all over and tears in my eyes. This was just beautiful. You inspire me to step out more while I am out and FEEL and talk to others. I often keep to myself, mind my own business, but this, THIS is the LOVE of Christ. Wow.

    1. Without a question in my mind HE is the one who is awesome. I tell you the truth, I was the one who drove away blessed. God does that every time. It’s a wonderful thing to just be a {{hug}} in the hand of God! Love you Mandy!

  3. Beautiful Loretta. As a wife of a veteran, I can only imagine the joy you gave her through your ministering to her. You may not think you could do anything to help but you acknowledged something tragic in her life. You agreed that this was a BIG DEAL and should be remembered. What a gift you gave them. 🙂

    1. Thank you Tina. If I had a dollar for every one of these God moments I missed or chickened out on, I’d have sold my soul to the devil a long time ago. Seriously…I’ve learned to relax into it and to no longer worry that others will think I’m weird. In fact, when it comes to weird, I leave them no doubt to work with because I AM!

  4. “I can solve no problem and I can heal no one.” The “fixer” in me has struggled with this truth my entire life. HE needs to solve and heal…we just need to be in tune enough with Him we can hear if he calls us to do or say something. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Yeah…me too. Among other things, I’m a recovering “fixer” myself! Failure after bitter failure in this department has shown me my inability and his ability. Love you Donna!

    1. Thank you Stefanie. I can say with complete honesty that I haven’t always taken the chance I did this day but more and more I’m learning that I really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Bless you Sister!

  5. This is beautiful! This part spoke to me: “But I’ve learned that isn’t the point of these encounters… that isn’t my role.” So true. Simple obedience to God. He wants to use us, but its always Him and His Will be done.

    1. Thank you Amanda…it’s a big deal for me to learn that because I’m a bit of a “fixer” and it’s a lesson I had to learn for even those times I have LOTS of ministry time. I so appreciate your encouragement.

  6. Hi there, wanted to thank you for your comments on my sad stray kitty story… it was an unusual day and I had no idea that it would end up as my FMF the next morning…
    I wanted to come over and read some of your blog and WOW, this one hit me for a couple of reasons. Mostly, because I have similar encounters with “strangers” but I have always seen those occasions to be opportunities for God to reach out through me. Also my husband was in the Army for 20 years and I feel such sorrow for those that lose family members or that come back wounded. I may have raised my 3 girls by myself most of the time, but I’m very thankful he’s still here to enjoy the next part of our family journey.
    Sue

    1. Thank you Sue…I truly appreciate the “God things” that brought us together: FMF, a stray cat and now this. Thankyou for sharing your bit of this story too; it’s so important to “look up” and be a part of what God is doing everywhere! Bless you!

  7. Amen. Isn’t it a blessing to be available? To be open? To be used? Not only did you bless that family along the road, you blessed each reader in the telling. May God continue to anoint you to serve.
    A blessing upon you, and abundant peace. I am thankful you were my neighbor today at rachelwojo.com.

  8. Loretta, thank you so much for allowing us to step into the story, as well…and remind us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s nudges. You’re an amazing lady.

  9. Thank you, Loretta, for sharing from your beautiful heart. Lady, you bless me more than our will ever know. I am thankful that God allowed our paths to cross….

Welcome to the discussion!