You know those times when you run into a person in life and you just know God brought you to the same place at the same time for a reason? Well….this was not one of those times, or at least not at first glimpse. Yesterday I had a run-in with a woman I’m going to call “Mary.” (I don’t know her real name, and I’m somewhat grateful for that. You’ll understand why shortly.)
Mary was in a hurry to get somewhere, it appeared, because she decided to head toward the exit of a parking lot by cutting across the incoming lane of traffic. I was in the process of entering, when suddenly she was in front of me. Colson saw her coming and warned me, but still I had to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting her. Mary also stopped, facing the wrong way (albeit caddy corner) right in front of me. I seriously don’t know if her rage was triggered at that moment or whether it might have already been well in progress, but promptly she began mouthing things at me. She rolled down her window, and I reached to roll down my own before something I’ll call “divine instinct” told me not to do it. Mary began shouting, and the lip reading was unmistakable. Use your imagination. Mary is a very angry woman.
This is Texas, y’all. For the most part, we try to get along–but I seriously believe that had I engaged in dialogue with Mary, she may have jumped out of her car and physically attacked me (while parked in *my* lane)!
Sometimes I’m dense. It wasn’t until this morning that an important truth dawned on me: Divine appointments are not always pleasant. The woman in that car needs prayer. She could have driven into the path of anyone, but the same God who laid out the stars of the universe timed it so that the object of her rage would be me. It doesn’t take a mental health professional to realize this woman probably has trouble going on her life, but I am one. It doesn’t take a preacher to understand that she needs prayer, but I’m a Christ-follower. And while it might take me a while to hear the voice of God, I do try to obey him when he speaks. At approximately 6 o’clock this morning, God enlightened me to the fact that even bizarrely unpleasant encounters sometimes take place for a wonderful purpose, outside of the realm of human understanding. What an “Aha” moment! If I don’t pray for this woman, will anyone? (Perhaps you will…but more importantly, you may, like me, have a better perspective the next time you run into your own “Mary.”)
How do I really know that God directed me to pray for Mary? “But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44, ESV)
Because He said so!
Note: The above photo is not one of Mary. Taking a picture of her would have been crazy and dangerous. Do not attempt such a thing!