My local coffee shop has proven to be a place of connection.
Over chai tea, I have written many of these blog posts, hosted my first book launch, prayed for friends, and met men and women who spoke life into my soul. I have learned to listen to God's prompting and lean into the lives of others because He wants them to know God sees and values them.
This is a skill God has fine-tuned since I committed my life to Him. Though I'd like to say I listen and obey every time, that is untrue. Places where there tends to be connection with others can be terrifying because I have to put myself where the action is. And sometimes God leads me deep behind enemy lines.
My oldest attended a private Christian school. When he was in fifth grade, I felt prompted to share my testimony. To tell of overcoming depression with the youth at his school during their chapel time. I felt inadequate. Getting up in front of teenagers terrified me. I proceeded to behave like the prophet Jonah, avoiding Gaven, the chapel leader. He was the one who coordinated speakers, and every time he crossed my path at the school I found I wanted to slip away. If Gaven was present, I wouldn't make eye contact and exited other doors to escape talking to him.
The prompting never waned. Weeks later, as I sat at the coffee shop waiting for a friend, I felt the Holy Spirit say, almost in an audible voice, "Look up! Gaven is coming in." S I looked up, and my jaw dropped as the youth leader entered. In the three years I was a regular at the shop, I hadn't seen Gaven. Done running and unable to speak, I finally surrendered to God's will. After a few minutes, I went up to Gaven and asked him to sit and talk with me.
I spoke to the kids about the story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50). About how we have many pit and palace moments. How these are used by God to shape us, and help us bring others to Him. I may never know the results of my final obedience, but that moment occurred because I placed myself where the action happens. Sometimes this occurred whether I wanted the connections or not. My life has been altered by how God used others in my life to sharpen me, To challenge me when I am wrong. To spur me on to embrace all God would use to equip me for the tasks in which He calls. (Hebrews 10:24-25).
These interactions fall into the following categories:
A brush is an encounter with a stranger in any setting. After my son died, I went to the coffee shop once a week to make myself available to anyone who needed to talk or pray. I wasn't normally there on Wednesdays but had to switch days. A friend met me, and as we talked and prayed, the woman behind us listened. We got up to leave, but our booth neighbor stopped us and asked for help with her own family situation. We prayed with her and exchanged contact information. I haven't seen her since, but she walked away with hope she did not have before our connection.
A season is often one of the hardest transitions for me. My family moved as I was establishing my faith walk and finishing up college. I was a single mom and suddenly had to decide whether to go with them or not. God made it clear that I was to stay. Yet all of my relationships shifted that year, and I felt lonely. I felt like God was shaking up my security network He had established in my life. I had a bit of a pity party as my friends and family moved. But within weeks realized that I had to engage in my new world, make new friends, and be a friend to others. If I didn't make this effort it wouldn't be anyone's fault but my own,
Yes, God was shaking things up, but all those shifts in relationships triggered growth and a longing to have a lifelong person to share my life with. I connected with my new paster's wife, supporting her and praying for her. I grew in independence and trust as I ran my own household and cared for my five-year-old son. I began the crazy and stretching journey of opening myself to dating again. As a result of the shakeup of my relationships, I met my husband Brian who now is a lifetime companion in my life.
Lifetime relationships, like the one I now have with my husband Brian, are those who will walk through fire for us. These are the people with whom we grow the most, but who also have the most power to harm to us. Brian and I were thrown into one crisis after another from the words "I do." The abuse of my past reared its ugly head. My son's health was constantly under attack, and we were often having to fight legal battles. In the first year of our marriage we reached the point of breaking, but that third chord of three strands, Christ, held firm when we could not (Ecclesiastes 4:21). God helped us to learn to speak the truth over our problems and not blame one another. Seventeen years later we remain steadfast and each other's most tenacious supporters.
A brush, season, or or a lifetime relationship has all taught me that placing myself where the action can be both a place of dying to self and an exhilarating place of God at work in me and those around me.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
Are we putting ourselves in places where synchronicity can happen? Synchronicity is defined as the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.
I define it as those moments when we make ourselves available to the will of God and all of heaven moves to meet us! Every place Jesus went was intentional. He was at the docks where the fishermen were casting their nets. He was in the village square where the Samaritan woman drew from her well at an unusual time of the day. He was in the garden, where God himself met with Him through prayer. Jesus was in the Jewish temples where the teaching occurred. He was at the parties, at the tables, and available in the middle of the needs of the people. He moved ever closer to Jerusalem as He ministered. Ever closer to hHis death. Ever closer to providing for the entire world its need for forgiveness and hope.
Synchronicity occurs when we refuse to let fear stop us and place ourselves where Christ leads.
Christ, you love when I show up where you are moving in the lives of others. Discipline me, train me, lead me to the fertile soil of your love and purpose for your people. Amen
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