A couple weeks ago I flew to visit a customer site. I had a bit of a drive from the airport, and after consuming a large quantity of juice and water I was feeling some pressure to give those liquids safe passage out of my body. And also I was hungry. It was getting late, and I didn't want to spend a lot of time at a fancier sit-down restaurant, so I made the next-most-responsible and healthy adult decision: McDonald's.
As I stood admiring the lists of tasty (and I'm sure healthy) food items, I observed a man and woman ahead of me in line, wearing bright red shirts with ginormous black lettering on both front and back proclaiming "JESUS SAVES". I eyed them up, wondering what flavor of ... well let's be honest the first word I thought of was "whackos"... Christians they might be. But the truth is that at the same time as I gawked, a feeling of peace descended upon me in that place.
I chose a table nearby them where I could casually observe (there's nothing creepy about that at all, right?), and what I saw every time I looked over were two people so incredibly joy-filled, that I was forced to start asking myself "what am I missing in my own faith? I want some of THAT!"
After consuming my probably-wasn't-that-healthy-for-me-after-all meal, and channeling my inner Elwood P. Dowd, I approached the red shirts, apologized for interrupting their conversation, and inquired, "I have to ask: obviously you're missionaries, what're you doing?" (blog text doesn't emote, so to clarify: this last clause was asked with a tone of genuine curiosity, not accusatorially).
Their names were Jerry and Cheryl, they had just married 6 months ago, and they felt God calling them to embark upon a weekend trip up into the city with nothing but their sleeping bags, to minister to the people they met in the community, and sleep under the stars like Jesus did in His ministry. That day already they'd witnessed to a dozen or more people (in English and in fluent Spanish!), many of whom experienced God in those moments and chose to embark on their own Christian journeys. That afternoon while visiting a yard sale, after the seller asked the story behind their shirts, she donated to them two hiking backpacks to carry their things. Jerry shared with me story after story of God's provision in their journey, and it reminded me of the verse about "take nothing for your journey, no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt." (citation: in the bible somewhere, in red text). I shared with them about my sense of peace in the restaurant, simply being near their presence. And Jerry gave me the Words he felt God speaking to him for me. We talked for probably half an hour or more. (and, living up to my Elwood P. Dowd aspirations, we ended with me saying "here, let me give you one of my cards...")
I consider our meeting a Divine appointment, a spiritually-uplifting encounter I hadn't realized how much I needed until afterward. And having had that encounter, I wish I carried an aura like Jerry and Cheryl do, one that brings peace to the people around me. (I could also describe my coworker Tom in this way, for he is the most serene man I've ever met; and I'm not just saying that because I know he reads my blog :) This is something I hope to improve on, because while perhaps some of the time I do [bring peace], I fear that too often I instead succumb to negativity, or at the least, intensity, which lends itself not toward peaceful and serene living. God, grant me grace, that I would be as full of You as were my brother and sister whom I met in a McDonald's two weeks ago.