The meeting place

Yesterday was a first for me, jury duty. And while most people cringe at the thought of sitting in a courtroom, I was excited! After all, who wouldn’t enjoy a real-life episode of “Law and Order”? So when the alarm sounded, my happy little self jumped into the shower.

And then I wondered about the others getting ready, at that same moment, for the very same event. Somewhere nearby, potential jurors were shaving and showering. Lawyers were drinking coffee (I’m guessing) as they reviewed their cases. The judge–well, I wonder what judges do at 6:00 a.m.–let’s just say he was ironing his robe. 🙂 And not far away, an accused young man was about to be the center of attention. Did he sleep well the night before? Was he nervous?

All of us, from judge to defendant, combing our hair. Brushing our teeth. Rushing out the door to mingle with strangers, people who included:

  • An elderly woman who walked with a cane. She raised six children alone and “done it the right way, with a board to their backsides.”
  • A college student who was anxious about missing class. He’s applied to medical school and needs “perfect scores. Otherwise, there’s no chance of getting in.”
  •  Two friends chosen as jurors. They’ve been together since “third grade, when life was simple and boys had cooties.”

Oh, and me. I was there, a regular ole Jesus follower who’d spent some time asking God a few questions: “Lord, who needs encouragement today? Who’s feeling invisible? Discouraged? Put them in my path, Father, and nudge me when it’s time to share your awesome love.”

Enter Mrs. Judy around 7:50 a.m. I spotted her in the parking lot, struggling with a cane and purse. Three people rushed past, trying to avoid the rain, but this was my chance–God’s chance, actually–to put feet to those prayers. So we met under my umbrella, where I carried two purses and heard tales of six kids and their sore backsides.

And then there was Chad, the uptight college student. Around 8:05 he asked me a question as we waited in line: “Do you think my professor will excuse jury duty?” Twenty minutes later, we’d jumped from small talk to HUGE talk, easy as pie. (It’s a pretty smooth transition when someone asks, “How did you know your purpose in life? Because I’m not sure mine is medicine.”)

Linda and Sandy–potential jurors 104 and 105–sat behind me for most of the day. They were mostly interested in the book on my lap, a study in Philippians. As we passed it back and forth, I heard comments like, “That’s a good one!” after reading verses 4:8 and 4:13. “Lots of practical stuff in this book,” Linda told me later. “I need to dust off that Bible of mine.”

No opportunity wasted. No meeting place random or unimportant. That’s my focus for 2011, a stirring in my heart that began recently. And yes, I believe God put it there. He seemed to whisper, “You are where you are for a reason. Make these moments count for Me.” And so I’ve been dipping my hands and feet into the water, an ocean of people drowning under stress and hopelessness. It’s an overwhelming task, but God only asks for one thing: At each “swimming hole,” act on opportunities to show His love.

If you’re a Jesus follower who wonders about your purpose, try this: For a whole week, view every situation as a place where God’s love is needed. Notice the faces on an elevator or the worried expressions in a waiting room. How about the tired look in your own mom’s eyes? This is no accidental meeting: You are exactly where you’re supposed to be, so will you act? You know the healing truth of God, so will you pass it on? He wants to work through you and change the world, one meeting place at a time. Will you let Him?

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