The urban campus where I work is spread across nine city blocks in the heart of downtown Erie. Most days, my job keeps me very busy in my own office and building, but there are other times when I must venture across campus for a meeting, an activity or event, or to pick up materials needed for a task that I am working on.
Usually, a walk offers a nice break. If I am lucky, the sun is shining, the air is warm, and I enjoy the exercise. (Yes, warm air does occur in Erie, Pennsylvania!) More often than not, the weather can be less than hospitable, and the walk can make for a really bad hair day. Today happened to be one of those days. Bundle up in my coat, hat, gloves and scarf … grab the umbrella … hope to get across campus and back without ending up totally disheveled and drenched.
Waiting to cross a busy city street in the pouring rain, a young student, whose name I learned was Vince, stood beside me with no outerwear, obviously getting totally soaked. The mother in me instantly offered him space under my big golf umbrella, and together we dodged puddles as we hurried along.
A short time later, I had to make a second trip across campus. As I stood under my umbrella in the pouring rain waiting to cross the same busy street, I thought about Vince. To be honest, I might not even recognize him if I saw him again. We’d briefly chatted with heads facing down against the wind and the rain. Suddenly, however, I felt to pray that God would bless his life in a way that allowed him to do a mighty work for the Kingdom of God. Immediately, I was completely saturated by the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was an incredible moment, and I felt intensely grateful that the God of the universe would acknowledge my meager prayer in such an intimate way.
Although I don’t especially enjoy making trips across campus in inclement weather, this simple encounter reinforced for me how easy it is to unintentionally go about my daily routine without really giving a second thought to so many of the hearts and souls that pass me by. I was reminded that the word of God — the benchmark by which I am to live — teaches me to be instant in prayer (Romans 12:12); to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17); to pray always in supplication of the Spirit for ALL men (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:1); to pray for God’s kingdom and will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10). And while my “secret closet” (Matthew 6:6) happened to be a busy street on a cold, wet, and windy day, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I serve a living God who is true to His word by hearing and answering the spoken and unspoken prayers of His saints.
I hope that someday the Lord will clue me in on the rest of Vince’s story. Whether or not that occurs, one of my goals this year is to consider more closely the people who pass me by.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.