Not long ago I was at the local grocery store when something unexpected happened.
Let me set the scene: It was about 11:30 in the evening, which is when I love going to the store (less people, which is good for me since I’m an introvert). I’m in a hoodie because it’s cold-ish outside. And I’m in a hurry because it’s pretty close to bed time.
Now back to the story: I go to the back of the store to pick up some milk and then grab some fruit. On the way to the registers in the front I see a clearly disoriented woman who is wearing an overcoat and some pajama bottoms. I have a feeling that she might be homeless or maybe a college student who is confused.
Either way I don’t want to talk to her. I am an introvert after all. But she’s block my path to the registers. So I move as far to the side as possible, trying to avoid this woman.
Then I hear, “Do you go to church?” I think to myself: Please don’t let it be THAT woman. I turn around and it is.
“Um, yes,” I stammer quietly.
“Lake Avenue Church right down the street.”
“Oh great! I went there last weekend!”
Now I realize that I need to engage fully, so I put the milk down and turn toward her. At just the same moment there’s a normal grocery store noise behind her. She turns around to see what it was and then back toward me. Her eyes start darting around everywhere like she’s a bit paranoid.
“So, how did you like it?” I ask, breaking the awkward silence.
“It was great. I met lots of interesting people.”
“Are you a pastor there?” She inquired.
“No. But I am a leader of an adult community called Crossroads.”
“Cool! I saw that group on the website.”
“You should check us out then!” I then introduce myself officially, tell her the details of when and where we meet, and then say goodbye.
She just keeps standing there in the same spot and I hit the checkout.
It was a strange and unexpected experience to say the least! And I wasn’t really keen on having it in the first place.
But I’m glad that I did! And this experience reminded me that I need to be more open to whatever and whomever might cross my path.
A Few Thoughts about My Unexpected Encounter…
- To be missional we need to be ready and available for what God might have in store, no matter how unexpected.
- Don’t be like me and try to avoid people just because they may prevent you from completing one task or another.
- We have to be willing to invite people into our community, no matter what kind of first impression they may have made.
- Lastly, we need to learn from our unexpected encounters so that we can take steps to be more missional in the future.
What do you think about this unexpected encounter I had? Let me know in the comments below.
UPDATE: It turns out that this woman never made her way to the community I help lead. But she did find me on Facebook. And she found a friend of mine of Facebook that she found very attractive. She started chatting with him and it quickly became obvious to him and to me that she might have some issues with mental illness. That point aside, this unexpected encounter did lead to future interactions, which I hope pointed her more and more toward Jesus.