Fridays with Susan...
When I first saw her, she was standing in one of the airport shops at Heathrow. She was obviously part of a religious order. Sturdy black shoes poked out from under an ankle length grey/blue skirt. Her head was covered with a fringed shawl and she wore a large cross around her neck. I immediately felt sorry for her, tied up in all that "religion". I wondered if she could know Jesus at all... I wasn't three steps past her before I realized how silly was that initial response and my judgmental attitude. I repented right then and there and hoped, naively, that I would have some kind of a second chance.
I saw her again when we boarded the plane. Our seats were in the very back and hers in the very front. I had to walk right by her, passing next to her aisle seat. I was too shy to say anything as I shuffled past, pulling my carry-on along with me. Others queing up behind me meant I had to keep moving down the aisle. I barely had time to catch her eye, but that was all I needed. Her face, in that fleeting moment when our eyes locked, smiled back at me with the warmth and love that was unmistakably the evidence of a heart that knows Jesus. I had wondered if she could possibly belong to Him and there he was smiling back at me through her eyes. Not a word passed between us, just a look and a smile, nothing more. But the blessing of that encounter rested on me and I am feeling the warmth of His love through her eys even now.
A few steps down the aisle and our progress was stalled by a woman who was trying in vain to get her bag to fit into the overhead rack. She was pulling and cramming and jerking the poor bag around to no avail. A woman across the aisle tried to be helpful.
"The crew will help you with that..." she offered.
The woman snapped around and her words came out in an angry hiss. "These are OUR seats and OUR stuff is supposed to fit HERE." She was clearly offended that someone else had put their bags in "her" space. She was peppering her vitriolic commentary with one expletive after another. She went back to cramming and banging and pushing things around. Suddenly the bag was clear and she SLAMMED the lid down with a disturbing Bang!, accompanied by a loud "Hrmphhh". She threw herself into her seat and folded her arms across her chest, making a spectacle of herself to all those around her. It was hard not to laugh. I was so thankful that I was able to keep moving down the aisle and that our seats on the long flight were nowhere near hers.
Two encounters with two women on one airplane. It made me think, really think. What was it Francis of Assissi said....?
Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary use words.
Lord Jesus, give me grace to preach the gospel today. Just like that first woman. And if necessary, give me the words.