I knew the second she walked up that she loved Jesus.
I had slipped out early one morning on my family’s vacation to get some time with the Lord; the haze was still floating lazily in the mountain valley where my family was staying for a couple nights. I finally settled down, my phone, Bible, water bottle, and jacket sprawled out around me when a lady turned around the corner and stared at my well-worn Bible. “Are you reading the Bible?” she asked.
“Yes, are you a believer?”
The connection was instantaneous. There’s something inexplicable about the way two gospel-transformed people can connect. Here we were, at least forty years apart, from two entirely different regions of the country, crying and laughing and praying and praising together — though we had never met and probably never will again. We rejoiced in God’s amazing mercy to each of us — I, the church kid saved from bondage of self-righteousness, and she, the repentant prodigal saved from the confusion of the Catholic church. We talked about what God did in our hearts during the quarantine, tears of joy spilling from her face as she talked about her studies in Job and James. We showed me her well-worn memory cards she carried with her on her prayer walks, the faded blue, pink, and purple 3×5 cards with the scrawled lyrics to her favorite praise songs testifying to a firm grasp of gospel truth.
Then we prayed. We prayed for her own estranged son, that God would work deep into His heart the scriptures she had faithfully taught him. We prayed for her own peace as she watched the country and city she loved torn apart by sickness and riots and politics. We prayed for my own heart as I wait on the Lord regarding ministry and missions opportunities. And we praised God, that no matter the pain and opposition and sorrows of this life, that He was at work doing something far more beautiful in the hearts of His people.
That encounter, so perfectly ordained by my heavenly Father, reminded me once again what true fellowship is about. It’s not about a social gathering with those we have most in common with. True fellowship unites hearts not around culture or hobbies, intellect or location, but around God’s mercy to undeserving sinners.