October 9, 2017
A Light in the Dark
“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
Friend to Friend
The last thing I planned to do that day was to leave my house.I had a mountain of writing I’d neglected and only a small window of time to complete it. I planned to hole up at home, ignore email and phone, and get the job done.
But then the phone rang. And I answered it. Which led to a spontaneous lunch with a friend who needed to talk. It wasn’t in my schedule, but I jumped in the car and headed out anyway. I knew what it feels like to need a last-minute listening ear.
But lunch took longer than I planned. Doesn’t it always? A sweet afternoon, no doubt about it. But worry over my waiting responsibilities continued to nag me. So I jumped back in my car and pointed it straight toward home. No detours allowed.
Until my phone rang again. And I answered it. It was a work call I’d been waiting for. So I pulled into a coffee shop parking lot where I could talk business without distraction.
Nearly an hour later, I hung up. By now it was well into the late afternoon with my to-dos untouched. Thinking a chai tea latte might energize me; I backed out of my parking space and turned into the drive-through.
Only the drive-through was closed. In the middle of a weekday afternoon. Dear Lord, how was that possible? If I wanted my pick-me-up, I’d have to walk inside.
Once again I parked my car in the lot. Frustrated, I glanced at my watch as I walked inside.
That’s when I met Lindsey.
Lindsey is a beautiful barista. And when my frustrated self walked up to the crowded counter, she’s the one who greeted me with a smile.
“What can I get for you?” More hours in the day? “How about a grande chai tea latte?” “Sure thing.” As she pulled out a fresh cup, Lindsey let me know they were now customizing their standard chai. As a result, I could choose my desired sweetness.
In a rare moment of stranger transparency, I mentioned how happy I was about the customization option, because of the fact that multiple surgeries have taken away most of my taste. I can’t taste sweet, making added sugar pointless, I told her.
Lindsey paused, sucked in a breath, and whispered, “You’re not that woman who wrote that book, are you?”
My turn to pause, inhale. “What book?” “Undone?” I don’t think she could’ve said it any softer. “Actually, yes.” I smiled big. “So nice to meet you!” And that’s when tears filled her eyes. She went on to explain the week before, she’d heard me tell my story on a radio interview, an ordained moment and message God delivered on a day she desperately needed to hear it.
“That has nothing to do with me,” I smiled again. “That’s all Him. He loves you.”
She nodded in agreement. And then said my showing up in her coffee shop on this particular day was nothing short of a miracle.
If she only knew.
From the moment the day began, God orchestrated my seemingly errant details to interrupt my well-planned day. Instead of allowing me to hole up at home with my list of to-dos, He sent me out. To a beautiful barista named Lindsey.
A coincidence? No way.
Now, months later, I’m pretty sure all that divine orchestration was for me and not her.
You see, most days I feel a strong urge to hide. To buffer myself from the vulnerable life. There are moments when reality weighs heavy, and I feel overwhelmed with a world that’s gone mad.
You know what I mean, don’t you? The wars and economic woes and tragedies and diseases and accidents. Even beyond all the dramatic evidence of this broken world are the everyday challenges of simply trying to love and live. More often than I care to admit, I want to nestle into the protection of anonymity, hide in a shelter of my own making.
And yet, we weren’t given a light to hide it.
Our stories weren’t written for our own reading any more than the sun is for one person’s shining. We’ve been given stories—broken and beautiful stories—so a broken and beautiful world can see there is a God who’s written a story for them too.
Including baristas named Lindsey.
We’ve been sent, you and I. We’re message bearers, storytellers, light givers.
None of this can happen if we hide, content to keep our stories to ourselves. There is a great big world waiting to know there is a God who sees and loves them too. Will we leave safety in order to be sent?
The sending is hard, that is true. Both risk and rawness come when we allow God to push us out of hiding and into the light. It means sharing in the suffering of others. Opening yourself to rejection. Facing and feeling the brokenness of a world we once believed was nearly perfect.
And yet I shudder a bit when I think how close I came to staying home that day. How easy it would’ve been to keep the door locked, stay in my car, and refuse to walk inside those coffee shop doors, keep my lips shut about my story.
How close I came to missing out on God’s sweet gift through His sending. Because in offering Lindsey a glimpse of God’s love, I got a taste of it for myself too.
Dear Lord, as followers of Jesus, we know we are sent. Not on our own merits but on Your Son’s. Called to carry His name to a world filled with people waiting for a miracle. Ambassadors of the story of all stories to a world of Lindseys searching for it. Help us be a light in a darkened world.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
How do you hide from the world? Practice sharing the broken and beautiful parts of your story with a trusted friend or offer a smile and kind words to the next stranger you meet. And see where God takes your willingness from there.
More from the Girlfriends
It’s here! Michele’s new book, I Am: A 60-day Journey To Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is, is now available. If you’re exhausted from the struggle to prove your worth, this daily journey may finally deliver the peace you crave. Then, join her I Am Online Experience, starting October 2!
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Originally published Monday, 09 October 2017.