Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Girl at the Gas Station

We can never tell who is catching a glimpse of our story at any given time. It is too wonderful for us. What's even more wonderful is why. Why is God doing this at this time?

Not quite a year ago, while driving from New York to Virginia, I stopped at a gas station in Pennsylvannia somewhere. Pennsylvania has always seemed, to me, kind of like the Wood between the Worlds in "The Magician's Nephew." Nothing really happens there, it's not even really a place, it's just somewhere you have to go through to get from Virginia to New York. In this case, it was a place to stop and get gas.

At this particular gas station, on this particular trip, I ran in the store to grab some snacks, beef jerky, if I remember right, and paid for them at the counter, like most people do. The young woman behind the counter looked to be about twenty or so, perhaps more, and she didn't have a nametag, but for some reason I felt the urge to say to her, "By the way, you have very pretty eyes." So I did.
In my whole life, an absolutely singular occurrence. I'm not given to complimenting random women on their appearance, but for some reason I just felt she needed to hear it, and I think I was right. Her face lit up like the Fourth of July and she said, "Thank-you." I nodded and left. Perhaps it was just that she looked busy and stressed out. Perhaps it was just the fact that I was in an uplifted mood (I was in a somewhat uplifted mood). Perhaps the Holy Spirit was using me as a piece in her story, one of those minor walk-throughs that writers put in that seem gratuitous at first, as if they have no purpose other than detail and artsy-ness, but which, after more careful thought, turn out to be deeply symbolic. Or perhaps He just wanted to see her smile. I would. It was a smile worth seeing.

Why really makes no difference. I was called in that particular moment to speak the truth. She needed to hear the truth, for some reason and in some way that is between her and God alone. I don't remember a thing about her appearance. God willing we'll meet in Heaven because it isn't likely we'll meet again here, and if we did I wouldn't recognize her (I have a horrible memory for faces.) It is enough that I was used, for a second, to do something for her. I don't know what it was. It's her story, not mine, but the Holy Spirit used me to do something good for her, and He knows what it was. That is good enough.

But the Holy Spirit is never satisfied with good enough. He used me, and in return, I have been richly blessed by the encounter. Whenever God uses us, He always gives us more than He takes. My story is richer for having been used to enhance her story, and that is a most beautiful gift of God. It is a hint, if you will. A hint of things to come.

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