Unfortunately, real living often includes large sections of hot, black asphalt.
This morning a puddle of destiny came to me; I merely had to turn and step, in order to land smack dab in the middle.
I confess, I’m what I call a “shadowy church attendee.” I don’t go every week and when I do, I often slip in the back door and sit in the shadows.
Now don’t get me wrong, I deliver this admission shame-free. One of the most precious discoveries I have learned, over the past sixteen years, is that the Lord does not leave me when I walk out of those doors. In fact, He sticks by me through all of life’s black asphalt times.
He even has a whole lot of other people outside of those doors who find and encourage each other in precious ways.
Yet, this morning I just knew I should go. I sensed God had a special surprise for me and I could not pass up a possible surprise. So I texted my brother and sister-in-law:
“Are you going to church?”
“Yes, meet us at 8:50 A.M.”
This time, I couldn’t slip into the back row because my sister-in-law had saved me a seat right in the middle. “Yikes!” I thought.
As I neared my seat, I heard “Are you JoDee?” A woman standing behind me said. “You were one of the cheerleaders in high school.”
There was no getting away with obscurity today. We had a refreshing conversation and then I turned to enjoy the worship and an inspirational sermon.
After church, my brother, sister-in-law, and I talked and mingled with former friends and acquaintances who spied us standing in the courtyard.
“Hey, haven’t seen you for a long time.” A kindly man said as he extended his hand. “Do you go here?”
Rats, I thought. “Occasionally. I’m a shadowy church attendee,” I explained.
“Kind of staying on the fringes.” I admitted somewhat sheepishly.
“Like me.” He smiled.
After he left, my brother, sister-in-law, and I were discussing destiny, and I spoke my thoughts about the sermon aloud, “Maybe the only treasures worth investing in this world are relational. Giving hope to someone who really needs encouragement to keep on living has eternal value. The only things we can take with us after we pass into the next realm are what we’ve invested into others, like hope.”
Just as I finished the last world, I spied two young teenage girls walking up towards me. I remembered those smiling faces and immediately cried out, “My girls!” We hugged and I asked them how old they were now.
“We’re in the eleventh grade.” They said in unison.
We caught up on what had transpired in their lives since I had them in my seventh grade class five years ago. Both of them were in my daughter and my ballroom dance group as well. These two youth kept a special place in our hearts and I have wondered what became of them.
I vividly remember the one because she had a very difficult home life. Her aunt asked me if I would take her into my class that year. I remember looking into those large, searching eyes and telling her that God had a plan for her life and that she should never give up. I knew she was sent to me that year as a special gift.
Now she stood before me a healthy, vibrant young woman full of hope. I promised to keep in touch with them and walked away on the verge of tears. I felt refreshing droplets from the puddle of destiny surrounding me and moving through my heart.
I also felt a deep sense of appreciation for The Desert Vineyard providing these two precious teens with a safe place to grow in their faith.
“Yes,” I whispered, “Puddle jumping is what this life is all about!”