For the past twelve years I have attended the North Carolinians for Home Education's annual conference. I love every aspect of the conference: encouraging speakers, aimless wandering through the vendor hall, seeing old friends, making new acquaintances, and being surrounded by hundreds of like minded families who share my passion for home education. This year held an added bonus: a cafe that has *the best* coffee I've ever had. Seriously. Oh, and Pat McCrory spoke at the opening session. Yeah - that was pretty awesome, too. But neither of those was divine (except possibly the coffee) so I'll move on.
The conference runs Thursday through Saturday afternoon and is chock-full of more workshops, information, and ideas than the human mind is capable of absorbing. Coffee helps, of course. (Perhaps I'll suggest they include caffeine patches in the price of the conference?) Anyway - by the time I showed up at my sister's house Friday evening, I was spent physically (and financially). So I decided I would get up Saturday morning and head home rather than returning for the last day. But the next morning I had a change of heart. For some unknown reason, I felt compelled to go back for the day's opening key note speaker. Plus, there was that awesome cafe so it was a win-win plan: one more coffee and one more session.
At this point I need to make a confession. I had found the conference to be a bit... disappointing. I seemed to struggle to find sessions where I really connected with the speaker or left feeling like I had learned something new. I hit one or two workshops that I enjoyed, but for the most part it was give or take. Every year I end up in at least one session where I think, "Okay, Lord; this is what I needed to hear; thank you!". But as of Saturday morning, I was still waiting for that "divine moment".
I arrived about ten minutes late for the opening session, and the speaker proved to be dynamic. I thoroughly enjoyed my coffee and gluten free muffin while scribbling as many notes as possible. When the session ended, I packed up my bag and headed towards the van. As I walked out of the convention center, I felt encouraged and satisfied, but still without that divine nudge. That's when I noticed her.
Set up in the breeze way between the two sets of doors was a small concessions table with the standard fare of overpriced chips. candy bars, sodas and bottled water. Only the lady siting behind the table had her head down. When she was aware that potential customers were walking by, she sat up with great effort. I don't consider myself particularity good at discernment, but her eyes reflected the deepest despondency I have ever seen. When I caught her eye, I smiled and stopped long enough to exchange a few comments and wish her a good afternoon. The moment I walked out the door the Holy Spirit whispered, "go back and pray with her." My response? "Lord, that would make me feel weird; might make her feel weird too". Holy Spirit's response? "Haven't we been through this before? It doesn't matter how you feel. Go!". Me: "Okay, you're right. I'll do it." At that point I had already crossed the street to go into the vendor hall, so I decided to make my one stop and then return to pray with her.
Five minutes later I was walking back across the street to the convention center. As I approached the doors, I saw a small group of people headed out, so I slowed my stride in order to give them time to pass through before I approached her. I no longer cared about being perceived as strange, but I didn't want her to feel uncomfortable. I stepped back in and said, " I was just in here a few minuted ago and felt like I should come back and pray for you, if that's okay." She agreed and I took this sweet woman's hand and prayed a simple, earnest, quick prayer. When I said "amen," she looked at me with tears pooling in the corners of her eyes, and said, "thank you; I needed that; I really did." I leaned over and embraced her, then looked her in the eye and said, "the Lord loves you, and He sees you right where you are.... and He's a good Father." She smiled weakly and nodded. I squeezed her hand once again and wished her well one last time.
As I crossed the street once again, headed towards the parking deck, the Lord whispered, "that is why I sent you this year."
It wasn't for me to be filled or for my needs to be met, but rather, for me to pour out and meet someone else's need. And in the beauty of God's economy, we are filled up when we are willing to empty out.
I'd love to hear your story! Do you have a time when God transformed a seemingly ordinary moment into something more? Leave your comments below. Thanks for stopping by!