December 6, 2017

Two Strangers in a Long Line

It was a few weeks before Christmas several years ago when I stood in a long, long line at the post office with a smile on my face, remembering the previous evening’s enjoyment from the time spent baking and assembling two care packages for my daughters who attended college far from home. Soon they would be coming home for their Christmas break, but first they had to study for finals and finish all their exams.

I double-checked the address labels again and made sure the packaging tape was secure, then looked up to see if the line was moving again and caught the troubled expression on the face of the woman in front of me. I quickly glanced around to see if other people in the line were engaged in conversation. I noticed several people were on their phones and others were busy filling out forms. It appeared that no one was interested in attempting small talk with a stranger next to them in line.

The lady in front of me was still staring in to space with a sorrowful countenance, when I decided to say a warm hello in hopes that a friendly greeting might provide even a small amount of encouragement. I offered my warm hello and proceeded to comment on the long, slow moving line and shared that my packages were care packages for my daughters away at college. Her eyes instantly filled with tears as she spilled the words, “My son is in the military, he is in Iraq. I am terrified for him.”

I stood there feeling at a loss for words to say that would comfort her. The line was finally moving at a steady pace and I knew I didn’t have much time left to speak with her. I remembered a chapter in Psalms in which King David wrote about being safe even in the midst of a battle and began to tell her the story the chapter was written about. I tried to quote the verses about God keeping us safe in the middle of danger and reminded her that if it isn’t our appointed time to go, nothing can harm us. I couldn’t remember the passage word for word, but I saw understanding in her eyes, she knew what I was saying and I could see the truth of scripture reached her heart as her eyes filled with a look of hope.

She was next in line and was called to process her packages, and then it was my turn.  When she finished and I was still at my checkout station, she walked over to me, patted me on the back, squeezed my shoulder and said with a smile on her face, “You have a very Merry Christmas!” Her countenance had changed, she had been encouraged by God’s Word, because He is faithful, and His Word is powerful!

It was a tremendous blessing to me to witness how God met her need for an encouraging word that day through a stranger standing next to her in a long line at the post office. I exited the post office the same way I entered earlier, with a smile on my face, this time because I was amazed by the compassion I had just seen God demonstrate for one of His children.

Psalm 91:1-7
1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.