“We’re like ships that pass in the night!” I quipped to my neighbour as we lugged our children out of the car and into our prospective houses. But it got me thinking: how many encounters do I have every day that are like that, and how many of those are in any way significant?
I do remember some chance meetings in my past that have had a lasting impact on me. When I was a teenager volunteer on Summer Madness (a Christian holiday camp), I helped a man and his family carry their bags to their tent. I had an unmemorable conversation with the father, but a few days later, was told that he said he saw God had great things planned for me. That was more than ten years ago, but I have held on to his encouragement and it has helped to lift me out of self-despair many times. Later, when I was living in Glasgow, I met an elderly man at my church. He never said more than ‘hello’ to me, but was always the first to stand up and pray when I had introduced an open service. There was something about him that reminded me of God’s love and His spirit, and although he’s in heaven now, that stays with me.
So maybe sometimes it’s ok to be ships passing in the night, if we carry love and kindness with us. Many of the encounters that Jesus had were fleeting events, and yet no-one that passed by Him left unchanged. This truth gives me great optimism, considering how little time I seem to have to invest in anyone beyond my family. I meet mothers on a daily basis, and although they (like I do) play the role of a happy parent to perfection, I know that behind closed doors, they all have their own personal pain to cope with. So here’s my prayer – that I would be able, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to make my chance meetings significant ones – touched by love, understanding and lasting encouragement.