Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Whose Map?

Have you ever noticed that God's path for our journey is not the one we would have chosen for ourselves? I'm not just talking about the "big" things, either (jobs, locations, church affiliations, etc.). I'm talking about the journey: the day-to-day places of our lives. Still confused? Let me illustrate.

Several years ago, while on my lunch break from work, I chose a booth away from the lunch crowd. I had been around crowds enough at work. I just needed some quiet for a few minutes. As I was finishing up the last of my fries, the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to me: See that woman over there? The one carrying her tray away from the front counter? You need to go pray for her. My immediate reaction was: NO WAY! God, You know what a crazy morning it has been at the store. I am not going over there, disturbing some complete stranger's lunch, invading her privacy, only to look like a fool!

And why does it matter what anyone in this place thinks of you? You will probably never see any of these people again in your life.

By now, I was starting to get nervous. This was no joke. I am not a "go up to strangers and make conversation" kind of person. Ten years ago, I was even less that type of person! But if this was truly God speaking, how could I disobey?

So, with shaking knees, trembling hands, and a heart that was pounding like a drum...I obeyed. I walked right over to this woman and her friend, and said, "Excuse me. I'm not sure why, but I really feel God wanted me to come over and pray with you. Would that be okay?" She looked shocked (and who could blame her!?). But she said a quiet, "Yes." I honestly don't remember what I prayed for her. It was a short prayer. All I know is, when I finished, she had tears streaming down her face, said another quiet, "Thank you," and I left.

For the rest of that day, I felt so incredibly free! I had obeyed. The woman had been touched. And it hadn't hurt me a bit!

The next time came several years later. While standing behind an elderly woman at our credit union, I overheard her tell an employee, "I don't really know how to handle these things. He has always done all this." The employee assured her that he would personally make sure it was all taken care of. She was called next. I was called to a different teller. As I started to leave the building, there was that Voice again. You need to pray for her. I was in a hurry. I was embarrassed that I had overheard someone else's conversation. How could I pray for her?

I left the building, and walked halfway across the parking lot. I couldn't leave. I turned around and went back. She was just coming out into the entryway. Amidst much fear and trembling, I said, "I'm sorry to bother you, ma'am. But I really feel like I need to pray for you. Would that be okay?" She said, "Oh, please do!" So I did. When I finished my short little prayer, she told me her husband was in the last stages of cancer. She thanked me and hugged me. We both had tears. A few days later, I saw her husband's obituary in the newspaper. I mailed her a simple card, just to let her know I was still praying for her.

THOSE are God's ways of reminding us: you don't choose the path you take--I do. Should you choose not to take the path I direct you toward, others may miss out on something I have for them.

Yes, there have been more times of disobedience than obedience. Just recently, while on a family trip, I saw a man with a very obvious physical condition. He appeared to be in great pain. He was alone. The Lord spoke to my heart, "Go tell Him I love him." I was sitting with my children in a very busy stop area on the Ohio Turnpike, waiting for our food to arrive. There was no way I was leaving my children alone, so I could go talk to a stranger. However, once my husband arrived with the trays of food, I continued my list of excuses.

And I never made the move to talk to that stranger. O God, forgive me. I have prayed for that man many times since that day.

You see, our choices every day don't just affect our own lives. They affect our families, friends, co-workers, and, yes, even strangers.

May you walk according to God's road map today.
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