Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11
Sunday afternoon I was at the local yacht club, where the biggest gathering of the year was taking place. The annual brunch was over (I had been at church, so missed that part.), and the races were taking place.
I should probably explain that by “yacht club,” I mean a fenced-in yard with a dock and a building smaller than most houses. There are two restrooms, a mini-kitchen, and a sort of “all-purpose room” with a bookshelf, ping-pong table, and glass case full of t-shirts, caps, and mugs with the yacht club insignia. On the counter there’s usually a pot of coffee. We used to have a phone, but sometimes strangers would call saying “We’re coming into your area Thursday night and need to reserve a slip for our yacht. We’d also like to make reservations for dinner.” Whoever answered the phone (usually a kid in swim trunks) would say, “Um … we don’t have ‘slips,’ but we’re having a pot luck this Saturday …”
There’s no yacht club phone any more. Just a Facebook page.
Sunday I saw people there that I had never met and some I knew well. Others I had met but hadn’t seen in ten or eleven months, maybe a decade, with their kids who had shot up and were suddenly full grown people. They were gathered to race their Sunfish – little sailboats that hold one or two sailors. The boats were crowded together, bobbing over what used to be beach (lots of rain this year), and the race course was on the dry erase board. The races had been postponed the day before due to the weather – or the anticipation of bad weather – but the day had turned out fine after all. (Hey, this is Michigan.) So Sunday there were five races rather than two.
“Wow, that’s a lot of races,” I said to a woman. She looked vaguely familiar, but if we had met, it had been years. After a few more words of small talk I asked her name. She reminded me, and we proceeded to “catch up.” As is often the case with my generation of women, we landed on the topic of grandchildren and the joys of being “Nana,” or “Grammy,” or Meemaw,” or whatever a creative or verbally challenged grandchild comes up with.
At one point we were talking about movies the kids love, and as I told her how my daughter Kelly used to love “Snow White,” I told her about the day I came into the room on my way to fold laundry just in time to see the Prince carrying Snow White off to his castle to be his bride, how the castle was in the sky, and how I almost dropped my basket of clothes as I realized that the whole Gospel was in that story. (For details, see “Snow White: A Parable,” posted September 14, 2018.) I wasn’t sure why I was sharing this, as I didn’t know if she even knew what I meant by “gospel,” but suddenly I saw her face light up.
What followed was for me a little foretaste of heaven, sharing stories with a fellow believer. While the people around us were focused on sails, wind direction, fouls, protests, and who would be first to cross the finish line, we were telling each other about answered prayers and the fun of living a life waiting to see what God does next. It was such an unexpected encounter in that environment that we were laughing at things that would probably not seem funny to an outsider, but the pleasure of having found a “sister” was just too much to contain.
I’m not sure how long we had been talking when my new friend began to tell me something, hesitated, then apparently decided to go ahead and tell me.
“This morning I asked God if He would send me someone, a friend, that would encourage me. – And here you are! We looked at each other, and again broke into happy laughter. “Yes, He does that, doesn’t He?” We were both encouraged.
I proceeded to tell her about the time I was at college doing a short term in a school where I’d arrived knowing no one. During my “devotions” I had asked God to show me who the Christians were so I could have some friendships that would encourage me. Immediately, I’d heard a knock at the door, and a beautiful young lady, wearing a cross and carrying Bible had said sheepishly, “This may sound weird, but would you like to have devotions with me?” She had been missing her roommate, who had always had morning devotions with her, and who’d been away for short term. As this young lady had been walking down the hall in the dorm, telling the Lord her feelings, she’d sensed Him saying, Knock on that door, so she’d obeyed.
We laughed again, marveling at the many ways God fills our lives with serendipity.
Sometimes God answers our prayers with No, sometimes with Not now, sometimes with a resounding “YES!” (I’m guessing those are the times when we’re finally asking for the right things.) Sometimes our prayers are answered so quickly our heads are spinning.
Sometimes we get to see the answers to our prayers, and sometimes we get to be the answer to someone else’s prayers. I’m not sure which is more fun.