Three years ago, I thought I was going to a women’s gathering in Kansas City to connect, fellowship and build one another up in our shared faith.
It isn’t that it didn’t happen. I enjoyed the traveling, the hotel, the speakers and all the great conversations with some special ladies I had grown to love.
It was just that this other person got thrown into the mix who I wasn’t planning on. I had been praying for the opportunity to connect with women and God planted a young man right in the center of the whole estrogen driven event before I even got to the front door!
Our group had arrived the night before and decided to hit a downtown city market to grab breakfast on our way to the morning event. Because we were on foot, we left early and happened to find our food but no coffee. If you understand tired women who have stayed up half of the night sharing conversations and laughter, you would know that they would need their morning coffee!
We found a couple of tables and just as we were wondering out loud about our caffeine dilemma, a young man at a table nearby informed us that Starbucks was across the street and would be opening soon.
Well, don’t ya’ know we tuned in to that bit of info really fast!
Not only was this young man, I will call him “Ted”, helpful, he was sitting alone and reading a Bible, which of course grabbed my full attention.
I asked him if he was a pastor preparing a sermon, a student, or someone just reading it for his own personal devotion time.
“Actually”, he replied, “I am a prodigal pastor’s kid, trying to find my way back to God.”
So, how does one respond to such an honest answer? Lightening could have struck and it wouldn’t have been clearer that coffee and ladies needed to wait.
“No kidding? I am the mother of five pastor’s kids. Would you like to share your story with me?” With that, I sat down as ‘Ted’ began to open up.
He started by telling me that he was from a large family and his father was a very well known Christian leader. I had never met his father personally, but after hearing his name, knew who he was.
Ted shared about being the black sheep in the family and the one who had turned to alcohol. He talked about the havoc that his alcoholism had wreaked in his family and that his parents sadly, had to have him move out. He did not blame them for doing what he knew they felt was all they could do.
He had gone to a place that helped him and at the time we met, I believe he had been ‘dry’ for about 3 months.
He knew the scriptures inside and out and admitted that although he knew he could find hope there, he had just turned away from them. He was present in that moment wanting to hear from God.
I don’t know everything that I said because mainly, I just listened. I shared that often pastor’s kids feel pressure to measure up to expectations that make their fathers look good. They struggle with trying to find where Dad ends and they begin. How much more so, would Ted struggle with this given the position of his bigger than life father?
Without knowing his parents, as I listened, I knew they loved their son deeply. I was able to tell him and reassure him that they did. We are not always perfect as parents and as Christians sometimes we fail to live out our Savior in our parenting. Sometimes we don’t even know how to help them, but most of us deeply love our children and want the best for them.
I prayed with Ted and told him that I would continue to do so.
Over these past few years, we have corresponded and he is headed down such a good path. He has gone through and graduated from a program that deals with addictions and has helped him get grounded on a solid foundation. His relationship with Christ has deepened and his faith has grown as he has seen God restore broken relationships and heal the deepest hurts.
I don’t know if I did much for Ted other than pray for him. I do, however know that he did much for me. His honest desire to live out a sincere Christ following faith and pursue overcoming huge obstacles in his life was beyond refreshing.
Since my ladies group had long since wandered off to the event, I had some time to think as I headed down the street to join them. What were the chances that Ted and I would meet on that morning in a busy market? How did the pastor’s kid happen to be next to the table of the pastor’s kids’ mom?
Coincidence or divine appointment? No matter what another might believe, I am pretty sure that God showed up on a Saturday morning in a Kansas City market. How grateful I was to be able to tell a preachers kid how much he was loved. I know that if it had been one of my own, I would have wanted someone to tell them the same thing. I marveled that once again, I was reminded that God always seems to know what we need and who we need at just the right time.
Looking back to that event three years ago, I still rejoice that I serve a God of divine appointments and altered plans.