Slowing Down for God to Show Up // M-Note 1.27.24

Late last week, I traveled to Washington, D.C. where I spoke to pastors and lay leaders of the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. It was a packed day where I gave three talks and connected with all sorts of creative leaders. When I got on the plane to travel home late Saturday, I was wiped. When I finally arrived in St. Louis, I shuffled off the plane bleary eyed and did something I NEVER do – I forgot my new iPad on the plane. I didn’t realize it until I went to bed, and, other than filling out an online form and praying, there was not much I could do about it.  
Monday morning, after 36 hours of talking to random airline customer service people, I was beginning to lose hope that I would ever see it again. Finally, in desperation, I found a number for baggage claim at Lambert, called, and actually got a real live human being in St. Louis! Her name was Jenella. After explaining my situation, she said, “Since it wasn’t checked, it may not be here, but I’ll tell you what – I am working alone, but give me until my break, and I’ll go into the airport and try to find it.”
 
Around lunch time, I got a call. An excited Jenella told me she found the iPad! I immediately drove to the airport and picked it up. When I arrived at the little baggage claim office, I thanked Jenella and bought her lunch while she worked her post. Before I left, I told her I was a pastor. She asked if we could pray and I said, “of course!” Jenella told me what was happening in her life, what she needed prayers for, and we stood there in the little baggage claim office and prayed. Afterwards, she gave me a hug and thanked me. There were tears, laughs, and we both were amazed that God showed up for each of us in this accidental encounter.
 
I arrived back home, and, of course, this incident reminded me that God really does show up in all sorts of ways and at surprising times. What started out as the most frustrating experience of my weekend, became one of my most meaningful encounters in ministry. Jenella didn't have to go out of her way to help me, but she did. I didn’t have to volunteer that I was a pastor. But, I did! Most people in baggage claim at the airport don’t take time to sit and talk, but we both had the time. And, just by slowing down for a moment, we gave God a chance to show up.
 
Maybe something frustrating is happening to you right now, too. It isn’t fun. But maybe God is also getting ready to show up. Be open, look around, and slow down. Most of all, I was reminded how impactful it can be when we choose to be a light to those around us. That is what Jenella was for me, and hopefully, I was that for her.
 
This weekend, I can’t wait to finish our series Clean Slate. I will be talking about the importance of slowing down. I invited Jenella to church. If you see her, treat her like royalty. She deserves it.
 
Peace,
 
Matt
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