I was given a gift tonight while traveling home from Nashville today. God seems to do this to me once in a while to remind me how much detail he truly is aware of in my life.
As i walked up to the local train at the PHL airport i was already an hour + late, and i knew i had to wait for 20 minutes before the next train. As i entered the holding area, i was freezing, and i only had one other person in the room with me. I decided to make the best of it, and said hello. The lady with me was in her early 60’s and dressed in plain khakis and a red sweater, i noticed immediately her obvious missing coat. She was shivering and looked like she had been there for a minute.
I decided to offer her my coat, knowing that i had another in my bag, and even expressed so. She said no thank you. At this point she was standing almost as far away from me in the holding room as she could. Then she said in a kind voice, however if you had a cell phone, i would appreciate if i could use it. I of course pulled my cell phone out and asked her for the number. She came closer as i dialed, and then when she was finished with her call, she did not walk as faraway.
I decided to strike up conversation again, so where have you been that you don’t have a coat for this weather? I have been in Peru, she replied. I then asked her what she was doing in Peru, she explained that she is part of the Sisters of Mercy (A order of Catholic Nuns, typically missionaries). It is summer time in Peru, and she did not have the proper clothing for her travel. I was obviously moved by her story, so i pressed more. What do you do there? She explained that she works with a village there, helping families understand equality for women. As we talked she continued to seem more comfortable with our conversation. She then asked me what i did, i train Youth Pastors to work together, and work with a group of local youth outside of Newark, NJ, I replied.
Next thing you know we are in full conversation, i shared with her the story about my buddy Katie Davis (http://blogspot.kissesfromkatie.com), another Catholic sister that i knew that loved the Lord and was serving him faithfully. She was very moved by Katies’ story.
We continued to exchange stories and that 20 minutes in the holding room flew, God had given me a gift of a new friend, really a new sister in the Lord. As the train arrived, i went to shake her hand and thank her, i had not even learned her name yet. Her name was Sister Marie and then she grabbed me and gave me a hug, she thanked me for my time and my stories of hope. I asked her when her train was coming, she did not know, so i went to leave and then the lady on the train deck began to yell to her that this was the only train, and that she had called out her destination. Almost instinctively i stuck up for my new sister, and in nicer words told the train attendant to “chill it”.
So we got on the train, and had another few minutes to talk. I asked her why she was home. She explained that her 85 yr old father (Gerald) had fallen and broken his hip. She spoke to her sisters in Peru, and knew she needed to come home, as this likely is the beginning of the end for him. In the midst of this story, the attendant came to collect our cash for the tickets. Mine was $7 and hers $10, i explained to the attendant that i was to pay for both. In a moment you are going to find out why that was so significant for me.
As our time came to an end, i gave her my business card and asked her to email me, so that i could hear more about her 27 years serving the families in the village in Peru, and so i could send her the website about Katie that i mentioned earlier.
As i got off the train, the Lord began to speak to my heart. He rewound my last couple days, and showed me I was actually given about 20 gifts during my time since i hit the ground at PHL. Let me explain. On Monday during my meetings in Nashville we went out to lunch. After lunch i walked out but left my dishes. I was at a place where they clean up your table, but a tip is not necessary. However i felt the Lord say very quickly that i needed to leave a tip. All i have in cash is 2-$5 bills, so i left one of the two.
Today as i got off of the plane, i grabbed all my stuff and walked by the ATM in the terminal. As i got my bags, i went to check my cash. I only have $5, and i need $7 to get a ride on the train to central philly. Surely i had $2 somewhere in my bag. No such luck, man that is frustrating So I am in terminal E, outside of security, and there is no, ATM. The next 20 minutes i walked outside in the snow and cold from the last Terminal (E) to the first Terminal (A), stopping one by one trying to find an ATM. Each time getting more bothered by the fact that i am missing my scheduled train, and the ones after it. On top of that, each time the i found a Bank of America ATM it would not read my card. Finally, i am at the last terminal, and that ATM would not take my card or others who tried. Then an Asian man comes up, and his works. So i stood at that ATM and tried my card 40 times, determined that it WILL work. On the 41st time, it did. So i grabbed my cash (which was meant to pay for my ticket and hers), and headed to the closest SEPTA train. As i looked at the schedule, i had just missed that last train and had to wait 20+ minutes for the next. But God had a plan for that 20 minutes, just like he had for the tip i left on Monday, and for the fact that i needed to find cash, and for beging delayed as i searched for an ATM to work, and... you get the point.
Which bring us to where my story began, walking into the holding room at Terminal A, meeting Sister Marie in her red sweater.
What a lesson packaged in my gift tonight. “For i know the plans i have for you Steve, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to put people in your path, and interupt your life, so that you can be part of what i am doing. And if you will pay attention, you will find me. But if you won’t, be not afraid, daddy knows whats best, and I can altar your plans so that you will find mine.”
Tonight i was given the gift of interruption, so i could meet Sister Marie from Peru, and be reminded He has it all under control. I pray i continue to learn to pay more attention to the spirit so i can see Him at work. Amen.