I love unexpected glimpses of God’s little criss-crosses of purpose running through the tapestry of my life. It always reminds me that He knows what He’s doing; and that all the stray threads dangling off the edge do have purpose and will eventually be woven back into the pattern.
Three years after Dan was killed, my sister-in-law and I took a hastily planned Fall Foliage tour trip to New England. The booking agent said the only reason we were able to be included was that someone else had cancelled.
An extended family that included a great-grandmother with two of her adult children and their spouses, from the Texas hill country, were some of our fellow travelers. Their laughter and teasing banter made it easy to see how much they enjoyed each other’s company. One of them, Debbie—a beautiful and outgoing blonde—was the quintessential Texas lady; her speech, like mine, peppered with multiple southern y’all’s.
The last morning of the trip, Debbie and I were alone in the hotel lobby for about 10 minutes while we waited for our airport shuttle. With tears in her eyes she told me how much she was missing her mom who had passed away; and I responded in kind, with a few sentences describing how hard it had been to lose Dan. We agreed that God was the only reason for hope, and foundation for survival, when your world unexpectedly turns upside down.
By the time we boarded the van, we’d texted pictures and exchanged email addresses; and I’d promised to add her to my Scripture on the go emails. The drive to the airport was filled with sharing family pictures and stories of kids and grandkids back home. Our paths criss-crossed in the airport a couple more times before we took separate planes back to different parts of Texas.
Back home the next day, my sister, Judy, called to say that she had a story to tell me. Seems a friend of hers, Shelly, had just called to add some new pieces to an older story.
Judy was one of the first people I called after I found out Dan had been killed; and she almost immediately headed to Nacogdoches from College Station. On her way, she called her good friend, Shelly, to ask her to begin praying for us.
Shelly now told Judy that, when she’d received Judy’s phone call for prayer three years ago, she’d been in the middle of a conversation with her daughter’s mother-in-law.
And, now three years later, her daughter’s mother-in-law had just returned from a fall foliage tour trip to New England. When Shelly asked about the trip, her daughter’s mother-in-law immediately began telling her about meeting a really nice lady, from Texas, whose pastor husband had been killed three years ago.
Shelly told my sister that, the more details she heard from her daughter’s mother-in-law, the more she realized she was hearing a story she’d already heard—three years ago when Judy called asking for prayer.
Shelly’s daughter is married to Debbie’s son.
Debbie and I arranged a phone conversation a couple of days later to talk about the amazing criss-cross that had occurred in our lives. Two Texas ladies—alone during the quietest 10 minutes of the entire New England touring trip—connected in those moments through our mutual faith in Jesus Christ.
But, unbeknownst to us in Cape Cod, we already shared a much longer and closer history; because, she told me during our Texas based phone call, she’d been praying for me for the past three years…ever since her son’s mother-in-law told her the story the first time.
We can make our plans,
but the LORD determines our steps.