A “chance” encounter?

Is this just me, or you, too?

You round the bread aisle at Publix and see someone slightly familiar, but you’re not sure. You avoid eye contact again until you figure it out.

By the milk row, you’ve remembered: it’s a guy from high school you’d rather not bump into again. So you take a sharp right into frozen foods to avoid him. Until he ends up behind you in the checkout, at which point you become all friendly, “Oh, hi! It’s so good to see you again!”

I used to think they were chance encounters. Until I realized they were divine ones instead.

After meeting Walter Baby Love a couple years ago at Outdoor Church,  I looked forward to more opportunities to see him. And I did. For awhile. I printed a picture of him singing so I could give it to him the next time I saw him.

But there wasn’t a next time. I didn’t see him at Manna House during the weekly openings or at Outdoor Church at all. I assumed he’d either gotten sick or moved away. I stopped bringing the photo with me.

So the morning of the King’s Banquet, he was not on my mind. I was circling the table where we’d soon be serving homeless men and women, praying over those who would fill the chairs. My head was down, until someone came up behind me and I turned around.

Walter 2014

It was Walter Baby Love! He smiled; I squealed; we both hugged.

I listened to his story of where he’d been (he’s still close by after all), and introduced him to my friends. He was as delightful as ever and as eager to sing as before.

We worked out arrangements for him to sing one of his favorites songs to the dinner guests; he delivered.

As he was leaving, we hugged again, not knowing when we’d next see each other. But assured that when God wants it to happen, it will.

Maybe when we expect it; maybe when we don’t.

Unexpected encounters are only unexpected to us. God already knows. He coordinates them. They’re holy ground. And as such they need to be treasured and appreciated and lingered over.

Do I still avoid people at the grocery store? Sometimes (especially on those ballcap and sweatpants mornings),  but not as often as I once would have.

I’m learning to cherish the “chance” encounters as God-encounters instead, learning to be grateful for how he moves people around me.

Because when God moves us around for encounters, there’s no “chance” about it. He’s extraordinarily intentional. May I give them extraordinary attention, too.

* * *

Other things I’ve learned from Walter Baby Love:

When have you had a chance encounter that was really a divine one?
Please share in the comments.

22 thoughts on “A “chance” encounter?

  1. Linda@Creekside

    And these words I will remember this morning, Lisa. The next time I want to make an abrupt left turn and take off down another aisle. I will remember that when I turn my back and walk away, I am denying Him the joy of using me in some way to bless another who might need a touch of His love.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I hope I will have the conviction to stay the course too instead of taking the turn (which is still my natural tendency).

      And I hope I remember your beautiful words, Linda, to “not deny Him the joy of using me in some way to bless another who might need a touch of His love.” Love that!

  2. Janet

    Oooh, I SO know this feeling! I think it belongs to that I’m-not-sure-I-can-catch-you-up-on-the-last-30-years-in-2-minutes thing. Or not. We’re such a world of “Hi, how are you?” and not really listening to the answer that it becomes awkward when someone has an answer. And I don’t think it’s really an unfriendly, or uncaring thing. It’s just an un- thing. Yes, I think God is calling us to fellowship – to listening – to de-busifying our world enough to share with one another. Our time. Our lessons. Our efforts. Our failures and our successes. Thank you for sharing yours! I hope your Wednesday is truly wonderful. Janet

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Good motivation, Janet: “God is calling us to fellowship – to listening – to de-busifying our world enough to share with one another.” He wants to work through us and yet we (well, me!) think we’re too busy doing other “important” things to give our time, lessons, efforts to “lesser” things (i.e., people–yikes) that are really orchestrated from him.

  3. Holly Barrett

    This –> He’s extraordinarily intentional. May I give them extraordinary attention, too.
    I had just such an encounter yesterday while heading to a meeting. Before getting in the car I had checked my mail and my latest purchase of word necklaces had arrived. I had intended to use them as gifts and already had decided where each one would go. Until God spoke into my heart and told me that I needed to give them to the women I was meeting with…who happen to be my colleagues and supervisors at work. I debated on the 15-minute drive but by the time I arrived, I was agreeing with God. They both had seen my One Word necklace and loved it, so were thrilled to get their own necklaces. Frankly, I had expected that…I mean who’s gonna be ungracious in accepting a gift, right? But what God was really up to was speaking into the heart of one of these women in a way that I couldn’t have known about it. The word on her necklace was a message to her…if nothing else, a message about how God sees her and knows her and is working in her situation. I was just delighted to be the messenger! (I think there may be a blog post in there for me to write too!) 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, you definitely need to turn that into its own post, Holly! Love the story of you delighting in being his messenger. May it be so more with me, too. Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. Alecia

    Boy, do I need to remember this, especially when I go back to my hometown for a visit and run into someone I’d rather not! It always seem to be the one person that I didn’t get along with, guess God is trying to get my attention but I’ve been ignoring Him. Thanks for this reminder!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ve found that if I ignore God the first time, he’ll continue bringing the person back around until I face up. There’s no getting around it so I should give in the first time. 🙂

  5. Jenna // A Mama Collective

    This is beautiful! I know EXACTLY what you mean, and boy have I been there… and avoided way too many “chance” encounters. Thank you for the reminder to press into them instead of running away. I appreciate your words and your speaking Truth! So glad to have found you through #imperfectprose 🙂 ~Jenna // A Mama Collective

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Glad it’s not just me then. ha. It’s funny to me how God used the encounter of where I WANTED to run into someone, to remind me to talk to those I don’t want to run into. He is definitely wiser than I am. 🙂

  6. Dolly@Soulstops

    What a great photo of you and Walter Baby Love….I bumped into a friend at the grocery store parking lot once..it turned out she needed some encouragement…Thank you for the reminder 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s cool. Usually God does have a reason for us to bump into someone, doesn’t he? Sometimes we figure it out–either for them or for us; sometimes we never know. I want to be okay with it whether I understand it or not.

  7. Natalie

    Oh, that hurts. I do that. Especially with people I haven’t seen in a very long time. I somehow convince myself that they won’t recognize me which is silly. I recognized them! Thanks for words that went to my heart and made me know that I must grow up and do the hard things.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ooh, that’s my number 1 excuse: they probably won’t remember who I am. But you’re right that I remember who they are, so it’d probably work in reverse. Another excuse shattered; thanks, Natalie. 🙂 Time to be a big girl.

  8. Carol Longenecker Hiestand

    visiting here from Imperfect prose – I always like to know who I am reading, so I read about you and I read about your little one in heaven. It touched me deeply as I am a 66 year old grandmother of 9 who has been grieving finally the loss of a tiny baby sister when I was 11. Of course no one talked much about it then. Hardly anyone even knew. I had been so excited for a baby sister – I don’t know what it’s like for a mom to lose a tiny baby like you did, because sadly my mom rarely talked about it. It just happened and we moved on, but when i lost my last surviving sibling in 2005, i grieved not only him but the loss of two others as a child. It’s a good thing – but my, it was hard. I am glad things are so much more open now. And yes,m i loved your post today too.

  9. Beverley

    You are right there are no chance encounters.

    One morning, whilst i was still at work, it was my turn to coordinate the ward during the shift. That meant it was up to me where everyone would work, but i also had to make sure i had the right mix of levels of staff to take care of the patient’s. As it turned out there were enough of us that day to leave me as an overall spare, which meant i could work wherever the other staff needed me to. Mornings were always very busy discharging some and admitting others. One team were getting slowed down by their patient’s needs and so i stepped in and went to admit a lovely lady who was called Sue. As we talked, she began to unpack and out of her bag came a church magazine. Although i don’t normally point out to patient’s my religion, i asked her which chapel she attended and told her which one is was at. It turned out that that very morning she had prayed was reassurance that she would be alright, her reply on learning we were members of the same church was, ‘now i know i’ll be alright.’ God had given her the reassurance that he had heard her prayer and she was alright.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s such a perfect example of God at work, both in Sue’s life and in yours. It’s so affirming when we see these things happening. I love this story, Beverley.

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