Posted by: mikenicholsblog | February 9, 2014

divine appointments

Have you ever been to Shreveport, Louisiana? Well, I certainly had not … until last Tuesday evening!  I can promise you that I will never forget my experiences from the overnight trip last week.  In a matter of twelve short hours, I had two encounters that will live with me forever.  I want to share them with you because on any given day your life can take unusual turns that are unforgettable.  Here goes!

On a thirty-minute flight from Dallas to Shreveport, I sat next to a gentleman who was returning from a Colorado ski trip with his friends. We had business interests in common and in a very short flight covered lots of territory.  Our common interests turned to deeper issues, and I truly believe that the Father ordained us to sit next to each other.  I believe God had me in a strategic place to encourage and nudge a Christ-follower to re-launch his commitment to spiritual growth. We have communicated since then, and I am convinced that lives are going to be affected because of our short journey together.  I have come to a place in my life where I understand that divinely engineered moments should be acted upon.

After arriving at my airport hotel that evening, I inquired about the workout facility. My first point of caution should have been that it was in a separate building.  I was committed to working out the next morning, and shortly before 7 a.m. unlocked the darkened workout room.  I noticed immediately that the TV wasn’t working, which was a serious downer. How could I work out without ESPN? I also noticed that the hotel was using this room for the storage of recently stained wood and random Halloween material (so I thought).  In the corner there was a mannequin covered up “collecting dust” (so I thought). As I looked for a piece of exercise equipment that might have a TV attached, something happened that I will never forget. THE MANNEQUIN MOVED ITS HAND!  Then the head moved, at which point, I realized that I was not alone.

It was a startling moment for me and also the young homeless man who had taken up residence for the night. Can you imagine how my heart rate jumped at that moment?!  For some strange reason, I just got on the treadmill and started my workout (my wife wasn’t pleased). The young man got up, adjusted his coat, unplugged his cell phone from the wall and started out.  I looked at him and said, “Have a nice day,” to which he replied, “You too.”  I have told, laughed about, and relived that story countless times over the last few days.  The more I think about it, the more serious it becomes to me. Could this also have been a divine encounter?   In that particular situation, I would rarely (unless God prompted me) have tried to engage that person in conversation. There are obviously issues that brought that young man to be in the exercise room overnight.

This year at Journey onWord, we are reading the words of Jesus and challenging people to truly experience His words, actions and attitudes.  I have become convinced that my attitude towards the young man (the mannequin-that-wasn’t) was less than Christ-like.  Just this morning the words of Matthew 11 stood out to me — and the good news is preached to the poor. Without much thought, we can all look down upon, turn away from, and generally ignore those who seem … poor.

How would Jesus have “seen” my workout visitor? He sees him exactly as He sees you and me … as His child, highly valued and loved.  How would He have engaged in that moment?  I am convinced, as if it had eternal significance. God loves broken people!  I most assuredly will never see this young man again, but I can pray for him … as I believe Christ would want me too.

I told you my story, not because you are going to Shreveport, or will meet a new friend who loves to ski, or be confronted with a deeply hurting person during a morning workout, but you will have divine appointments. What you do with them will have an effect on others.  I hope to spend lots of time encouraging and being encouraged by my new friend from the plane, and I hope my most unusual workout will help me to always value others the way Christ would.

When your story is told, I trust you valued others just like Christ!

yeam_2014


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