Thursday, July 25 2024 - 11:02 AM
man not getting through on phone
Photo by Dreamstime

Divine Appointment

I’ll never forget my education in the matters of God’s divine appointments. It happened in my first year as a pastor. I was heading to a meeting with my friend, Charlene, when my cell phone rang. It was Andrea. I’d met Andrea just a few weeks back, and immediately I could tell something was wrong.

It turns out she was struggling with depression and was looking for some encouragement. I cheered her as best I could and offered to visit her on our way back—if time allowed. “I live on Hawthorn Street,” she said. “It’s easy to find and not far out of your way.”

“I’ll come by after my meeting if I can,” I replied. “See you later.” And that was it. At least until we found ourselves lost on the way home. Having taken a wrong exit, we found ourselves on an unfamiliar bridge.

“Did you see the name of the bridge?” Charlene asked, getting excited, “I think we’re on the Hawthorn Bridge!” Hawthorn? How perfect. I whipped out my cell phone to call Andrea. Nice reminder, God, I thought.

Waiting for a Pay Phone

But my cell was dead; my charger at home and Andrea’s number was trapped in my dead phone. Realizing this, we began scanning the passing stores for payphones. We were on Hawthorn Street now. “Payphones! I love payphones!” Charlene exclaimed as we turned into a Safeway parking lot, spotting a line of phones.

Then everything slowed down. There were plenty of phones, four to be exact, but after I grabbed my credit card and stepped up to call, I found that a man about my age was plunking his change into the one phone that had a credit card payment option. All the other phones had just coin slots (it was the 90’s). I rolled my eyes and began waiting. He went on and on. He had many, many, many—piles of—many quarters. It was getting late, “Could You hurry him up, God,” I whined.

Busy Signal

He finally said goodbye and returned to his car. I made my call and got Andrea’s number, but when I tried it, wouldn’t you know, it was busy. Yes, and I was frustrated. We were no doubt a few blocks from her house—and her phone was busy! Well, we’d come this far, so we decided to wait it out. Ten minutes passed, and I headed back out to the line of phones to try one more time.

I couldn’t believe my eyes! This same guy gets out of his car just ahead of me and goes to the only phone I can use. “Come on, buddy,” I whisper under my breath. “Get off already.”

I barely said the words, and I began to sense God hedging in on my frustration. “Pray for him, Clar.” What? “Pray for him. He’s going through something tough right now. Clar, pray for him.”

Divine Appointment

O.K., I thought. I could pass the time that way. Why not? Reluctantly I prayed, and prayed, and prayed, while he poured quarters into the phone and talked and talked and talked. It seemed like an eternity before he hung up and headed back to his car. But by now, I was feeling pretty good for all the prayer. I rushed for the phone and called. It rang and rang, and then I got Andrea’s answering machine. “Wow,” I muttered, “I thought this was a divine appointment.”

And that’s when the real divine appointment hit. It started with a little voice in my soul. “Go over to the car that guy is in and tell him you were impressed to pray for him.” What? At 11 p.m., you want me to wander up to this guy’s car and tell him I was praying for him? Even as my thoughts flew, I knew I didn’t need an answer. Arguing with God has never gotten me anywhere but delayed, so I bit my lip and walked over to the grey Ford parked a few parking spaces from mine.

Prayer with a Stranger

He didn’t look friendly when he rolled down the window in response to my tapping. “Yeah?” He asked.

“Hi, ahh mmmm,” I looked around, “Do you believe in prayer?” I finally choked out.

“Uh, yeah, I guess.” He sure wasn’t convincing, but at least he hadn’t screamed at me to get out of his face or rolled up his window. Things could be worse.

“Well, I want you to know that while I waited for the payphone you were using, God impressed me to pray for you. He impressed me that you were going through something really hard. And He wants you to know that it’s going to be O.K., yeah, He sent me over here to tell you that.” I swallowed, “So, is everything O.K.?”

He didn’t say a word, but his face got really white. “Uh, well, no, I, uh, just talked to my mom in Hawaii. And, uh, well, my dad just had a heart attack, and she doesn’t know anything yet… yeah.”

Who Would Have Known?

I felt my eyes fill with tears. “Wow, maybe we should pray some more.” I offered. And we did. First, we prayed, and then I took a few minutes to remind him of how much he mattered to God, of how loved he was, and of how God had gone through all this trouble to let him know it was going to be O.K. I sensed he was new to everything God, but he listened, got teary, and was comforted.

And who would have known? And who could have planned? Not me. No, I couldn’t have pulled it off if I had tried. Proof of that was how long it took us to find our way home that night. Not that we were in any hurry. After all, who can sleep with a divine appointment like that fresh on the mind?

If you enjoyed this, you may also like, Interrupting Rituals | Collecting Debt.

Claire Worley writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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About Claire Worley

Claire Worley

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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