I Just Happened To...

Last week I was hosting the Welcome at church for our Sunday services. Before the 6 pm service I needed a bit of a boost. I don’t typically drink coffee in the evenings but this evening I just happened to want some. So I headed to the coffee station in our lobby. As I poured my cup, I heard “Do you remember me?’

“Do I remember you?” repeating was me stalling while my brain searched the large card catalog in my head.

“I’m the bridge girl,” she declared.

At that moment, I knew. I knew EXACTLY who she was. I turned around and hugged her tightly. “Of course I remember you!” As we embraced we shared the memory of a night that would change everything.

I was working late at the church. The doors were locked and the lights were off. I just happened to be walking through the lobby when I saw a woman at the door. She was looking through the glass door when she saw me. I walked over, opened the door and asked how I could help her.

That question began a conversation that would last quite a while. Sue (not her real name) was desperate. She poured her heart out recounting how her addiction had sent her life going off track. She had made a series of poor choices. She had alienated her family. She was certain that her husband had no more second chances in him. “He won’t take me back this time. I know he won’t.”

As we talked about her addiction, I asked her if she had the drugs on her.

“I have some in my car,” she confessed.

“If you’re serious this time, go get it.” We walked to the lobby together and she went out to her car. I wasn’t sure she would come back. I imagined her changing her mind and screeching toward the exit on two wheels. But in a few minutes she returned- baggie in hand. I met her on the bridge.

Standing on the bridge we talked about Jesus as the bridge and the only way she could conquer her addictions and change her life. She opened the baggie and dumped the drugs out over the side. The fine particles disappeared into the breeze as they drifted into the ravine.

We returned to my office and she called her husband telling him where she was and what she had done. Because he would rightfully have reason to question what she was saying, I took the phone and spoke with him. I don’t remember everything I said but I verified what she had said and made a plea, “If you have it in your heart to give her one more chance, I think she’s serious this time.” With that she went home.

Hugging in the lobby, that’s the memory we were sharing. As we unlocked our embrace she said, “That was eight years ago.”

“What?”

“I’ve been clean ever since!” We embraced again- a little tighter- and then she introduced me to her daughter, who she said knew the whole story.

Riding the high of the power of redemption I shared this story with a friend of mine the next day. As I recounted it, I became aware of the two times I used the phrase, “I just happened to…”

It reminded me how desperately I want the Holy Spirit to continue to guide my “just happen to-s” and how grateful I am when He shows up and does something incredible.

What “just happened to-s” are waiting for you?