I didn’t understand just what that meant when I first heard it. I’m getting the idea.
One Sunday afternoon I was sitting in my easy chair with the TV on, reading a book and petting my cat when the Holy Spirit spoke to me. “Go to Barnes & Noble.”
Hmm, I wondered. I had plenty of books to read, why go to Barnes & Noble? The words came again, “Go to Barnes & Noble, go NOW.” So I got my purse and went.
I wandered around for a few minutes observing the other shoppers but not meeting anyone I knew, before picking out an inexpensive book. Still wondering why I was there, I made my way over to the coffee shop, paid for a cup of coffee and the book, then settled at a table facing the outside door.
Letting my coffee cool a little, I flipped open the book when clear as a bell, the Lord spoke again, “Get your nose out of that book.” Oh wow, I thought, that was blunt!
So I closed the book and slowly sipped my coffee, keeping an eye on the several entry ways into the coffee shop – and then I saw her, an older lady I occasionally ran into at community events. Her name was Elfie.
Spotting me about the same time, she brought her cup of coffee over to my table, and for the next hour Elfie poured out her heart to me. She said, “I know we don’t believe the same way on everything, but I do believe in prayer. Would you pray for me?”
She was about to go overseas on vacation, but on the way she planned to stop in New York where her daughter was in the hospital. Elfie was very worried about her. Sitting there in Barnes & Noble I prayed for Elfie and for her daughter.
We chatted a few more minutes, finished our coffee and went our separate ways, me to my car, her on into the Mall. I never saw Elfie again. She died last year.
I had a lot to think about on my drive home. Suppose I had ignored the Lord’s voice? Suppose I had put off going until later? I would have missed seeing Elfie.
I would have missed the opportunity to bless her, and to be blessed myself by obeying the Lord. Because I know, that I know, what I know — God wanted to help Elfie and her daughter, and he wanted to use me to do it.
That singular encounter made me mindful of how much the Lord loves people. It sharpened my spiritual ears and quickened my response time to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
And it changed the character of the encounters I have with people. That was the first time I had ever prayed for someone out in public, not in a church, or on the phone, or in the privacy of a home. But it was the first of many “right time, right place” encounters with the Holy Spirit since that day.