Every now and then, God uses even me to be in the exact right place at the exact right time.
It’s one of the best feelings I can ever imagine.
I was in a hospital in Washington, DC because my mother had just had a heart procedure done there. She was recovering well, and I was getting ready to head back home for the evening.
My original plan was to leave around 4 pm but I was delayed. If you know anything about the legendary traffic near Washington, DC, you’ll understand why I chose to wait three more hours at the hospital for rush hour to subside, rather than sit in a very large parking lot on I-270 for an hour on the way home.
That meant I was still at the hospital complex for dinner time. I went to the now familiar hospital cafeteria but couldn’t find anything I really felt like eating (a first; at least for my multiple trips there over the past week). The hospital also had a Panera onsite, so I walked the opposite direction (quite a distance) toward it. This led me–totally unintentionally–to the hospital chapel which was on the way.
I often stop in at hospital chapels. They’re usually empty (the Christian ones at least. We need to work on this, big time). The Christian in me likes that I get to spend time with God. The introvert in me likes that it’s pretty much the only place in the building I can be alone for a few minutes. I took a few minutes to pray, as I had some challenges of my own I was dealing with. I wouldn’t have stopped if I hadn’t been working through some challenges of my own.
The chapel was very small (photo below) and kind of like a tiny version of an older church.
While i was praying a nurse and a clearly upset, loudly weeping man walked in. This wasn’t quiet sobbing, but uncontrollable, loud “only cried like this 2 or 3 times in a lifetime” crying.
I overheard the nurse updating him but not enough to really know what was going on.
The nurse left him in the chapel and he seated himself a row or two behind me. He continued to sob uncontrollably.
At that point, I said six words I often say but had never said as very first words to a total stranger: “How can I pray for you?” I honestly didn’t know if the offer would be well received, taken with anger, rejected, or what.
I learned his name, and that His mother had just had a stroke and the prognosis wasn’t good. I stopped and prayed for him, for his mom, his sister (who was also in the building). I frequently don’t know what to say or pray in situations like this and just ask the Holy Spirit to give me something that’s helpful.
Afterward we said “amen” we talked for a few minutes and he eventually calmed down. It turned out his mother and my mother had very similar names. He had just gone back to church the previous Sunday for the first time in five years. I encouraged him to continue to allow the church he had just sought out to be there for him through this time.
It was a huge God moment for me, and probably a bigger one for him. Toward the end of our conversation he said “I will never forget this.” Me neither, I suspect . . . . .
God had clearly orchestrated multiple events to allow me to be there. They all seemed entirely random at the time. I had to stay in the city later than I had originally expected . I didn’t have dinner at the hospital cafeteria like I had done most times before, causing me to take a different route toward the other end of the complex. This made me pass the hospital chapel, and I decided to stop in and pray because I had a mini-crisis of my own at the time.
It all led to me being in a right place at a right time to get a chance to pray with a brother in need. God is constantly orchestrating thousands of events just like this across the world, every day. Ephesians 2:10 talks about the good works that God prepared “long ago” for us.
I want to play my part in His story, every day . . . . . .