For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13
During my travels to Oklahoma last week, the Lord opened my eyes, enabling me to see that He is always at work, not only in those opportunities and places I would expect, but also in the unexpected.
I saw the Lord at work in an older hotel in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, now the home of a Christian conference center and the ideal setting for the district-wide pastors’ wives retreat where I would speak. Though I came to teach, giving a message of God’s lavish grace in Christ, I also learned a great deal from these wonderfully wise women! We enjoyed loads of laughter, a flowing chocolate fountain, and special opportunities to gather around God’s Word together. He was at work in His Word and in these women, as they gave one another comfort and encouragement, hugs and affirmation.
My flight out of Oklahoma City was delayed, so I decided to purchase a sandwich at the airport. The clerk, a small Chinese woman, was meek and quiet. I doubted if many travelers said more than two words to her, so I decided to give it a try. When the flight was delayed even further, I came back to make another purchase. The woman looked up and grinned. “Deb, right?” came her unexpected words. I am thankful for another conversation with her. I only wish I had been more direct in my brief opportunities to witness my faith. I trust that God was at work, despite my meager attempts.
Dallas/Fort Worth was my layover stop and the delay that followed was even longer than the first. But God used every minute to show me that He is always at work! As I looked around the airport, I wondered if any of the hurried travelers around me were Christians and how God might use someone in that setting to be the aroma of Christ to a complete stranger. Then, to my surprise, a kind couple who had exchanged pleasantries with me earlier asked me if I would like to share something to eat. I thanked them, though I declined their generous offer. (Hmmm…was God at work in them? I pondered.) As they rose to leave, a family of four sat down nearby. These parents and their middle-schoolers promptly got out a deck of cards and began enjoying some fun family time, laughing and talking while they played. As I rose to leave, I took this opportunity to approach them; I shared what a blessing it was for me to see a loving family enjoying time together this way. I pray that God is at work in this family, and I hope that my words were a fragrant offering to Him, as well.
While standing in line to board the flight, a sweet woman began chatting with me. I was pleasantly surprised when we ended up seated next to each other! As we enjoyed a lengthy conversation, I shared my ministry work, my family, and my faith with her. She, in turn, shared much about her life with me, admitting she had left the church several years ago and longed to return. We talked about God’s grace and forgiveness in Christ. I reached into my purse and gave her my devotion books. (A friend told me to pack them, just in case I had an unexpected opportunity to share!) As we hugged good-bye in Omaha, she assured me, “These books will not go to waste!” God was at work. (And Sandra, I hope you are reading my blog. I am praying for you!)
If our eyes are open to it, we will see God at work, even in the unexpected, for it is HE who works in us (and others!) “…to will and to act according to His good purpose.” His good purpose for us is centered in Christ, that we would “spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him” (2 Corinthians 2:14) Are your eyes open to see it? Where and how is He at work in you and around you today?