A Chance Encounter!

A recent long day of travel home from Albuquerque involved a connecting flight to Chicago. As we landed at Midway, we were tired, hungry and ready to be at our final destination in St. Louis. Little did I know that "a chance encounter" would make the day a lot more enjoyable! We had drawn a good boarding number in the A section and the six of us were standing in the area where lines form before heading down the jetway into the aircraft. Matt and I looked at an athletically built young man and thought we recognized him but couldn’t say how or where.

Number 21's Autograph!
Go Noooooot!!

I happened to be standing next to him in line and immediately noticed he was watching the Friday night Cardinal’s game on his cell phone. That gave me a clue. I boldly asked, “Sir, are you with the organization?” He answered, "Yes. I'm a player." I then pressed, “May I ask, who?” And he readily responded, “Lars Nootbaar.” No sooner had the name come out of his mouth, Matt handed me his pen and whispered, “Ask him for his autograph.” I replied, “But, I don’t have any paper.” Matt instructed, “Use the back of your boarding pass!” Why is the obvious so hard to realize at times?!”

A short, but delightful conversation ensured (at least for me!). Lars had been in Chicago that day getting a passport in preparation for the team’s trip to Toronto for a two-game series after the All-Star break. He then offered that he was hoping to get back to Busch Stadium that night in time to get into the game. He did not! Our flight ran a little later than planned! But, since he was sitting on the same row as Matt and his family, we noticed that he slept well slumped against the window with his cap pulled down over his eyes all the way home! I am happy to report that he did play the entire game in right field the next day. And best of all, Lars hit a 3-run homer in the Cards routing of the Reds, 11-3! I’m sure it was because he was so well rested! 😉

One of my favorite Bible stories is how a blind man encounters Jesus one day as He is passing through Jericho on His way to Jerusalem and ultimately, the Cross. Mark identifies this man as Bartimaeus. The drama of the account builds as this needy blind person senses that Jesus of Nazareth is just about to pass by him as he sits begging alongside the road. The entourage stops as Bartimaeus shouts, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus then asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The man receives physical and spiritual sight with this answer, “I want to see!” Jesus simply says, “Go! Your faith has healed you!” The Scriptures say that Bartimaeus “immediately received his sight and followed Jesus in the way.” (Mark 10:46-52).

I don’t prefer to describe my daily encounters with others as merely “chance encounters.” Rather, I choose to see them as providential or God-appointed. Jesus knew that this blind man was going to be in his place that day. He also knew that Bartimaeus would shout out just the Messianic affirmation that the crowd needed to hear!

As believers, we must live our lives with hopeful expectancy and understand that God delights to bring us into relationship with others. This is how He gets His work done.  God uses us as channels of blessing as He is working with redemptive precision to bring a lost world unto Himself. Though we may feel at times as if we are playing only a small part in the total scheme of what God is doing the world, we must embrace the fact that it is an important and necessary part. 

God uses those who faithfully partner with Him! Are you living your daily life with a heightened sense of awareness? Can you see how God wants to work through you?

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


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