Interruptions or God's Appointments?

Everywhere I go these days, I am reminded of my age! It started years ago after turning fifty at a time when I was beginning to leverage that membership card from the organization that advocates for senior adults! I was being offered the "senior discount" at the local donut shop and other eateries without asking for it. It had me wondering, "How did they know I had just got my senior membership card?!" I soon realized that I was "showing my age" as we say, but it wasn't because I was carrying a plastic senior card in my wallet. Rather, it was because, "I was showing my age!" Literally! In my fifties, my hair was turning gray like my mother's! And, my shoulders were rounding so that I was slumping even more with each passing year. Why is it that we always seem to blame our parents or genetics for these developmental changes?
Photo credit: Charles Deluvio

Anyway, I shouldn't have been surprised the other day that once again, I was being identified as a mature adult. It was a sunny and unusually warm pre-spring Sunday afternoon and I decided to get out and take a walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the sunshine. The long winter was wearing on me and I needed to shake off some of that seasonal affective malaise or "cabin fever" that encroaches upon our spirits, attitudes and dispositions after we have been indoors too long. I put on tennis shoes, donned my ball cap and traded out my regular "specs" for the sunglasses I had on the dresser and I went out the door!

I had only walked a block or so before I came upon a group of three or four preschoolers playing in the front yard under the watchful eyes of their mothers who were standing nearby and chatting on the driveway. I had barely noticed them, and was hitting my stride as I passed by. All at once, I heard one of the little guys try to engage me in conversation with the greeting, "Hey! Grandpa! What's your name?" I was in the zone of my walk and wondering why a mother was not telling him, "Junior, don't you know we don't speak to strangers?" But, this is Sherman and everyone is friendly, so he persisted, "Hey! Hey!" I smiled him and walked on!

But the encounter worked on me more than a little bit! I couldn't get the greeting out of my mind, "Hey! Grandpa! What's your name?" I wondered, "How did he know I was a doting grandparent?!" But, to be truthful (and that's an odd statement for a preacher to make!), this had happened to me before. Just a few years back, we had a couple of cute little elementary school-aged boys living next door for a time! I didn't see them often and suspected they were under foster care by my neighbors. One day I had my head down and was concentrating on some yard work when I heard a kid's voice shouting out, "Hey! Old man! What's your name?" Kids say the darnedest things, don't they?

What do people see in you? Do they see a grandparent walking by to stay fit? Or do they see an old guy that doesn't want to be interrupted or get involved? Those that know me will say that I do like conversation, but I'm still struggling with when to stop and engage another person (or little person) and when to walk on! I know that some are willing to chat it up with me and others are glad to see the old guy pass by.

The other day, a curious guy at the local coffee shop sat down with a friend and me as we were just about to conclude our weekly Bible study and chat. We did not know each other. He was an out-of-town truck driver passing through and picking up a "cup of brew" when he saw us sitting in the corner "cushy chairs" and felt comfortable enough to move into our space. It was a delightful conversation! He had some questions about the Bible and faith. I think we were able to encourage him for that brief time. We closed with a prayer and walked out together. It seemed to be one of those unplanned, but divine appointments that God designs along the way.

Jesus had numerous conversations "in and along the way!" He didn't miss opportunities to engage others no matter the age or what they thought about Him. In Mark 5 Jesus had encounters with a demoniac, a synagogue ruler and a woman with a hemorrhage. One of my favorite stories is when Bartimaeus, the blind man of Jericho interrupted Jesus one day in need of mercy and healing. Jesus asked, "What do you want me to do?" And he replied, "I want to see!" The Scriptures say that "Immediately, he received his sight and followed Jesus!" (Mark 10:46-52).

As you are out and "along the way" of your life, don't forget that some of those interruptions are God's appointments. They are times for you to engage others in what may seem casual at first, but may end up being conversations that are life-changing! We never know how God is working in another's heart! What we may see as interruptions might be divine appointments! Let's practice not missing any appointments God puts in our way!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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