O’Hare would soon be a memory. I was scheduled to board in thirty minutes, leaving me enough time to either organize my notes or grab a beer. The bar hummed with travelers. Just as I approached, a table opened at my ten o’clock. I moved in without hesitation. In my periphery, a man stepped towards the same table. Fully aware of Darwin’s theories, I knew I could take him. Thinking better, I motioned my acquiescence. He said, “I don’t mind sharing.” I wasn’t real thrilled with the idea of conversation, but didn’t have time to wait. I smiled and said, “Sure.”
Ruben was obviously tired. He was on the return leg of a business trip to Puerto Rico. I quickly found that his job was setting up call centers, the same work I used to do. We discovered we knew many of the same companies, platforms, applications and even people. When he asked what I do now, I confessed to the pastorate. When he queried me on what my job entailed, I explained that I primarily did counseling, weddings and funerals. When he stated that he was sure weddings were more enjoyable than funerals, I surprised him with the fact that I prefer funerals. I believe death is where real life exists. Stripped of pretense in situations of incredible loss, the only things that remain are relationships with those around us and the God who created us. Ruben made an acute observation. “You are obviously doing something you love.”
As I pondered this truth, he switched gears. “I’ve been thinking lately about moving in that direction, but…” He trailed off in mid-sentence.
“What direction?” This conversation had just veered from the ordinary.
“Towards God.” Ruben’s eyes met mine.
“But…”, I echoed his previous hesitation.
He related a past mired in painful wounds inflicted by religious leaders. He wanted to learn more about God, but didn’t want to get hurt again.
Fifteen minutes was all that remained between us, but those were fifteen holy minutes. I explained the difference between men who failed him and a God who loves him. Between religions that fall short and a relationship that is real. I jotted on a napkin the names of a couple of books that he enthusiastically agreed to read. He insisted he put my beer on his tab and asked if I wanted anything else. I sensed he didn’t want me to leave. In a very short amount of time, we had forged a bond borne of authenticity.
God did not suddenly take notice of Ruben. He had been pursuing him long before our meeting. He had been preparing Ruben’s heart for that moment and many other moments. As for me, well I thought I was just killing time before my flight. God knew otherwise. He is constantly orchestrating divine appointments, yet I cruise through life like it’s about me.
Next time you think you’re just killing time, ask God what he is up to. Maybe you’re just running an errand, or just going to lunch, or just going to work. Don’t be lulled into a mundane sense of life. The God of this universe intends to use you in the lives of those you come into contact with. Ask him to pull back the curtain on what he is doing. You’ll be amazed. I know I am.