Iíve often wondered if Iím the only one that has them Ė snapshots in time when someone from seemingly a lifetime ago suddenly appears in the midst of your everyday hustle and bustle without warning. Itís probably to be expected, living in a small town such as I - a place where high school football heroes of long ago are still revered over a cup of coffee in the local diner; a place where couples return to raise their families after finding out that the rest of the world can be a very big, impersonal place; a place where you still know your neighbor by name, whether you like him or not.
Yes, that would be expected. But to bump into someone from your distant past who also lives in a far away place - someone with whom you havenít had any contact in over ten years, then that would be quite a different story. Have this happen on more than one occasion, then it could be considered prodigious. Now have this occur in an obscure, remote location and have that person be a nonbeliever who has been searching for God for all of his life; well then, that is what we refer to as a divine appointment. I like to refer to it as one of lifeís little cameo appearances.
It was seemingly a lifetime ago - the time we spent in Alaska. Mike and I were both airmen in the Air Force there, stationed at a tiny remote air base. We werenít close, the two of us. In fact, if not for his eccentric religious practices, I probably would never have remembered him. The peculiar behavior he exhibited during our time up there caused everyone at the base to take notice.
Over the course of our service at the remote air base that year, Mike had become a self-proclaimed eastern religion convert. One day, he had suddenly up and removed all of the furniture from his barracks Ė save the uncomfortable Government Issue mattress Ė and had completely changed his life. Seemingly overnight, he quit eating meat, shaved his head, and began practicing meditationÖand bad singing. All of us at the base considered Mike to be a bit eccentric, even quirky, if you will. Indeed, a number of descriptive names were ascribed to him: half-baked, flaky, one fry short of a happy meal. Yep, our opinion of Mike was unanimous. Well, not quite. Every single one of us at that air base had felt that way - every single one of us except for Wes, that is. Wes was a fellow Christian Ė a regular with the chapel crowd. He had befriended Mike over the course of that year, and towards the end of that year had taken the opportunity to witness to him. Although Mike didnít follow Christ that day, he did say that he appreciated Wesís concern. Wesís example taught me a valuable lesson about judging someone that day, a lesson that I will never forget.
Fast-forward about ten years. I was hiking at the Indiana Dunes State Park along the shores of Lake Michigan. The trail is located in a bit of a secluded place, a place where one goes to enjoy nature or, in my case, think. Mike was the last person I expected to see that particular day. Indeed, I almost didnít recognize him with his long, peacenik hair and scraggly beard. But somehow I did recognize him, and I called out to him as our paths intersected.
After a lengthy discussion, I found out that Mike was traveling around the country with a company that greased telephone poles. Go figure. As we stood beside the towering sand dunes and autumn foliage, I told him about my life experiences since Alaska. I shared with him about the difference that Christ had made in my life, and also how my time in Alaska had helped me to evaluate the things that I thought were important. He said that Alaska was a ďturning pointĒ for him also.
The two of us said goodbye that day, knowing full well that we would probably never see each other again. To this day, I donít know what affect, if any, my words had on Mike. All I do know is this: Wes planted, I watered, and one day, someone will harvest.
We never know, within the course of any given day, just what paths our lives may take, or for that matter what lives our paths may intersect. Within the reality of Godís interwoven tapestry of life, the unexpected becomes the norm, and the power of a moment is revealed. Therefore, we should always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, knowing that each moment can be a Divine Appointment from God. Then, perhaps in the midst of our everyday lives, we will begin to experience more of lifeís little cameo appearances.
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This story was magnificent! This happening was a one in a billion chances. I do believe God wanted you to meet Wes face to face again so that you could share His Words and give Wes a chance to know the true spirit of God.