There I sat in the warm, late-summer breeze. I was sitting on a bench in a small community park, ear buds in, book in hand. My eyes were everywhere but on the pages of my book though, as I scanned the park looking for...I didn't really know.
Only 15 minutes prior I'd been reading in my home, counting down the hours until I picked up my kids from school. The book I was reading, the same book I held in my hands on the park bench, was When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson. I could hardly put it down the first time I read it. It was so good, in fact, that I'd just begun reading it that day for the second time. What drew me to it was the focus on how to access Heaven and the Spiritual realm in our everyday lives. I'm starving for that. I'm ravenous for living life the way Jesus did. Everywhere Jesus went He healed and taught, and watched lives change by bringing the Kingdom of God to people.
I'm thirsting to death for the Living Water and sick to death of living a surface, comfortable life. I'm ready to see miracles right in front of my eyes and --better yet--to be a part of those miracles happening!
So, I'd settled in, ready to launch into this book again when a tiny thought crept in: "Do you just want to read about it or do you want to live it?" I shrugged it off and continued reading. I didn't get much further, though, until I could very clearly see the community park close to my house. I saw myself sitting on a park bench. And the more I thought about it, the more excited I got at the idea that God was telling me to go there...to that park...and sit on that bench.
And then I shut it down because I felt ridiculous.
But a fire welled up in my belly and I couldn't deny what I was feeling. I kept thinking, "what if..."
WHAT IF I did go to the park and sit on that bench and God showed up?
It was too much. I jumped up, grabbed my things and set off.
And a few minutes later, there I sat on that park bench. I was alone in a deserted park. I sat for about 20 minutes. I thought "Okay, God, I'm here!" I was waiting for God to show off. I had the feeling that I was supposed to be waiting for someone to pray with. A few minutes in and I started thinking I was waiting for my sanity to show up.
But then there she was...
She came up behind me, hustling while clutching her over-sized bag and large plastic tumbler. I remember noticing how red her hair was. I also had a few things run through my mind as I watched her face closely:
My breath caught as I watched her walk beside me, into the center of the gazebo in front of me, and then she stopped. All I could see of her in the gazebo, below the bushes, were her feet. I stared so hard at those feet, all while my heart hammered in my chest. My mind said "Go approcah her" while my feet and my backside screamed "Stay right where you are!"
Before I knew it, she scurried out the other side of the gazebo and hurried into the distance. I couldn't bring myself to get off the bench. I was glued to my spot. And then she was gone.
I'd blown it.
Eventually, I found my feet and walked toward where I'd seen her go. I walked around the block, not seeing her again, and found my way back to the bench.
I sat for what felt like forever feeling like I'd just missed my opportunity to be used by God and watch as He worked a miracle. I was miserable. I prayed asking for forgiveness. I asked God to give me another chance even though I didn't deserve it. A few others walked through the park, but none that I felt compelled to approach. I sat in my spot, wondering if I'd totally blown it.
I wondered how long I would stay, realizing I couldn't sit all day. The thought of "1:00" flashed in my mind and I decided that I would stay until then. It was 12:40.
15 minutes later, at 5 minutes till one, I saw a woman come into the park with a red umbrella over her head. I couldn't see her face. As she passed by me, I strained to see under the umbrella and sure enough, it was her! I nearly leapt off the bench and ran after her, worried that I would look like I was trying to mug her. She was walking at a very brisk pace. I called out "Excuse me?" and she turned to face me. It was obvious that she didn't have a lot of time. I asked if she'd walked through the park before and she said she had. That's when I noticed her over-sized bag and plastic tumbler. Then I knew it was her!
I approcahed sheepishly and said, "I know this is probably going to sound crazy, but when you passed through before, I believe God wanted me to ask you if there is anything I can pray about for you."
Then I waited for her to look at me like I had two heads.
She told me it didn't seem crazy. And then she told me: "I don't really have anything for you to pray about. But I do need a car!" I asked if I could pray with her about a car and she checked her watch, anxious to get going. She had to be back to work.
She relented though, and gave me her hand to pray. I asked if her name was Kathy and she said no, but she told me what it was. We prayed.
I thanked God for allowing me to meet her and pray with her. I prayed for God to reveal Himself to her in a different way than He ever had before and to draw her closer to Him. She started shaking and made a small sound.
Then I prayed for financial provision and breakthrough and for a car.
I finished by telling God that I was thankful that He's a God of second chances because I hesitated when she first came past me, but He allowed me a second chance to meet her. Then I said amen.
She thanked me for praying and started to walk away. She said, "Funny you'd say that about second chances...I'm in a place of second chances right now..." And then she was gone.
I stood for what seemed like a day, smiling like a total idiot. I was overwhelmed with one thought: "God is so good." In fact, that's what my new friend called over her shoulder to me as she was walking away.
She never asked my name and I like it that way. I'm praying she does get a car and there will be no mistaking who brought it to her: the Lord.
I practically floated home and rehashed it all in my head a thousand times. Out of curiosity, I searched for her, knowing only her first name, and miraculously found her on Facebook. I was struck by a few things: her red hair in every picture, and that she's been through many hard struggles, some recent.
And if I'd doubted for a minute that the Lord was in the center of it all, she and I have a mutual friend. That friend's name? Kathy (and it doesn't matter one bit that it's spelled "Cathie"!)
I am so grateful that I went. I could have missed watching the Lord in action and the immense privilege of getting to be a part of this. I know many could write this off as coincidence or happenstance, but I know better.
I'm waiting now, listening intently for where He sends me next. I almost robbed myself of this opportunity. I almost let my fear of what others thought of me or of looking foolish cause me to miss this. I'm so grateful for second chances.
What about you? Will you go when He calls you to wait on a park bench?