It happened one Sunday morning at a church in a neighboring city.
I had only been there twice before—once about 35 years ago and last year to attend a funeral.
That morning, my husband made an off-hand, last-minute comment about visiting the church his brother’s family attends.
We arrived just in time for the service. Instead of looking for his family, we found a spot near the back.
About ten minutes later, a giant-sized, jittery young man with long black hair wearing a stained black t-shirt plopped heavily into the pew next to me. I’m an introverted little old lady. Older than his mother, at least.
The pew groaned from the impact.
For the rest of the service, he bounced one or both legs so hard I could feel the pew vibrating.
Then I got nervous.
I should interject, I wasn’t nervous or offended because of his long hair. My youngest son hasn’t cut his hair in seven years, and I think he’s adorable.
The stained shirt did make me wonder. And why was he so nervous?
Flashback. Forty years earlier, the drunken father of one of my teenage friends burst into a church service brandishing a gun. Thankfully, his son quickly tackled him from behind and easily disarmed him.
“Does this guy have a gun?” “What should I do?” “Pray. I should pray.”
So, I prayed for the young man. I asked for wisdom and discernment. I prayed for peace.
Instead of revelation, I heard, “Offer him chewing gum.”
“Do I even have any,” I wondered?
I fumbled around in my purse, and sure enough, I did.
I couldn’t get his attention, so I hesitantly tapped him on the knee. The jiggling stopped. He leaned forward, squinted at my extended hand, then shook his head.
His bouncing and my praying resumed and continued for the rest of the service. All my apprehension left. The love of God which felt like the love I have for my own sons welled up inside me.
As the service ended, he still seemed anxious. I wanted to do or say something, but I had nothing.
Suddenly and quickly, he made his way to the front of the sanctuary where several ministry team leaders prayed for others. He scanned the altar to his left and to his right, then turned around and made a beeline for the lobby and the front door.
I thought, “I can’t let him leave like this!” I thrust my purse in my husband’s hands and ran after him, weaving through the crowded foyer and into the parking lot. My sister-in-law told me husband, “She’s on a mission.” She was right. I was oblivious to anyone or anything else.
Christopher (not his real name) wasn’t hard to spot. The moment I caught up with him is a blur.
I must have asked him a question. He said he was looking for the pastor, so I offered to help.
When we got back inside, I asked around. No one knew where he was.
Again, I knew I couldn’t let him leave like this. So I asked him, “What do you want from the pastor?”
“I want him to pray for my heart.”
After asking a few more questions, I learned that his heart problem wasn’t physical. In his own words, he was trying to say his heart had a spiritual problem. Right there amid the after-service buzz, Matthew asked Jesus to come in and make his heart brand new.
I reached up to place my hand on his giant chest and prayed for him.
When I opened my mouth, I didn’t know what was going to come out.
After stuttering for a bit, I felt the power of God, and the words flowed.
Afterward, Christopher asked me questions. He especially wanted to know if I was praying in Hebrew. I didn’t have a clue what language it was. Maybe of angels? He was curious and awed by the sign and wonder.
Although he didn’t mention it, he probably wondered about this little old lady who hugged as much of his waist as she could, as tightly as possible.
We offered to take him out to lunch, but he declined. He did leave smiling and visibly at peace.
I later learned Christopher visited that church a few times before. No one else knew his name or who he was.
So, you never know when a bass player with long hair wearing a stained T-shirt will rush in late, awkwardly climb over several people and sit by YOU.
YOU being someone who decided at the last-minute to attend that church, that morning, out of the blue.