Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Words to Live By

Courtesy M. Horrocks
We met by happenstance. Looking back, I felt robbed because our paths crossed for so short a time. I saved her business card. Over the next year, I sometimes picked it up and turned it over and over in my hand. Oh, if only we could have been friends.

The calendar did what it does and carried me along. The connection began to fade. I prepared to return to the writers conference where we met. The morning before I left, I thumbed through last year's business card collection. Who would I see again? Who had moved on to greener pastures? Would anyone care that I was back again?

There she was on that little square of paper. I was almost afraid to hope. Since it was not a photo card, I closed my eyes and tried to recall her face. Nada. Nothing. If she came again, would I even know her? I breathed a prayer. Truth be told, it was fleeting and without much hope.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
This year, I managed not to lock my keys in the car upon arriving. I was patting myself on the back as I returned the luggage carrier to the lobby. An energetic young couple was heading for the elevator, so I held the door. They tumbled in a little breathless from the heat and effort of the day. Her eyebrows lifted as if in excited recognition. “Hey!” Her husband's reaction affirmed that he thought she was greeting an old friend.

“Hi! How are you?” The greetings flowed like sweet tea and soothed like water in the desert. Then, we each looked a bit taken aback. Why such a heartfelt greeting as if we knew each other? We shied away. Probably just the contagion of excitement in the air.
Polite and more restrained mouth noise followed as we cast nervous and puzzled glances back and forth.

Was it another happenstance of life? Our rooms were right next door to one another. We saw each other coming and going, but warm greetings did not slow our paces. Until they did. The elevator doors closed against the frenzy of the conference. “I have this weird feeling every time we see each other. Like I should know you. Did you come last year?”

She agreed that our connection seemed oddly familiar, and, yes, she was an attendee last year as well. So, I asked, “May I have your card? Here's mine.”

Courtesy D. R. Ahola
In my palm lay a replica of the card I had pulled out and turned over and over so many times the preceding year. I tried not to cry. Recognition dawned on her face as well. We stood amazed. It all made sense now. We did know each other for those few, fleeting moments in time.

All I needed was to prove I was an unbalanced stalker while we were in an elevator with closed doors. Geez. I tried to keep my voice from wavering as I told her that the last thing I did before I left home was hold her card and ask God to cause our paths to cross. 

God did what I feel he so rarely does in my life. (Note: I said it's what I 'feel'. I am hoping I am just a slow learner with poorly corrected spiritual vision. I hope I will one day look back and see many things I cannot see about his work in my life right now.) He heard the cry of my heart and answered. In that instant of recognition, I rejoiced in his provision, uniquely designed for me.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
We spent breakfast together. Before we knew it, the cafeteria had grown quiet. In our absorption with the commonalities of our lives, the world had fallen away. We laughed and ran. Life. Always, always moving us along at a hurtle. This year, we made a promise. No more losing each other. And, we've kept it. More visits are in our future. Truthfully, time drags between visits. 

I received a note from her a few days ago. The news was not unexpected given what was transpiring in her life. She is leaving a career of twenty-two years to become a full-time writer and speaker. But, oh, her words. How they pierced my heart and still do. With her permission, I share a portion of them tonight:
Courtesy H. Wills

I am extremely sad to walk away from a profession that I love, yet I am deeply joyful and humbled that the God of the universe has spoken to me so intimately and so clearly. He has been holding my hand confirming this next step over and over again. He is too good, and I trust Him too much to resist His leading. 

I jotted her a note tonight. Last year, I turned her business card over and over in my heart. This year, I turn this paragraph over and over, again and again. He is too good, and I trust Him too much to resist His leading. Oh, the agony of soul. When last we sat face-to-face, I grasped her hand and said, “I want to know him like you do. I want to know God the way you do. I want to be able to say exactly what you've said.
How do you spell Providence?

I sit here tonight in the quiet and wee hours of the morning. My soul cries out to Jackie's God. Please. And thank-you. She is iron sharpening my iron. Help me live with that much faith. Help me to know you and declare you as she does: too good and too trustworthy to resist your leading. Here I am, Lord. Pick me?

For Jackie: the gift of iron to a rusty soul.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17


  1. you are an amazingly gifted writer my friend...keep at it! :)

  2. Amazing and gifted? I do try. May God grant the increase. Thank you for your kind words. Comments like yours keep me going every time I decide to throw in the towel!