After I kissed my daughter, Anna, goodbye in front of the Lexington Bluegrass airport I tried give myself some stern self-talk. I read about this somewhere. I knew that in just a few hundred feet I would have to face check-in and it would be good if I were a bit more collected. “Hold yourself together!” I implored. But leaving a daughter on another continent is not easily done.
When I arrived at the Delta counter I was met by a confusing new system of self-check-in and a credit card payment machine for bags. As I tried to figure things out with a grief blurred brain a kind voice asked me if she could help. Natashia came to my rescue first by handing me a box of tissues and then by easing my situation. “Oh we had another mom in here yesterday just like you. She left her son at Eastern Kentucky University.” She came around from behind the counter and began to check me in, waiving the bag fee, since I was traveling internationally, (even though it was the next day). I had such a sense of God’s hovering presence as I carried my new and strange sorrow. I told Natashia that she had been God’s provision for me. As she teared up I thought I was going to have share my tissues with her but I knew she had plenty.
Our daughter, Anna, is pursuing her call to missions by studying as a freshman at Asbury University.
What will life be like now for our family? That is a question each is asking and a phase each hesitant to enter but we do so joyfully knowing that following His leading is never comfortable but always full of His comfort.
I remember grabbing a slim pastel card from our promise box, just two weeks ago, needing a spiritual injection of courage and faith. “I will not leave you comfortless,” I read in those early pre-dawn hours on the way to the airport. He knows the pain that comes from letting a child go and He was telling me that He will be there to help me carry the load.
Since then I have met many on my journey who have been God’s embrace, His gentle touch. It was an email from Wesleyan Women saying they would like to help Anna get set up in her dorm. What could they send?
From the kind donations of strangers Anna found crisp new sheets, a fashionable comforter set, a soft blue cozy blanket, thick plush towels, an array of school supplies, and hand knitted slippers to keep her cold toes warm in winter.
When I landed in Ft. Lauderdale on my way back to Brazil I was met by a couple with whom I had spent an afternoon seven years ago, when they lived in Georgia. We have had an internet friendship over the years but now they were here to take me to their home, two hours away, navigating through Miami traffic and then to help me with my last-minute shopping. When I got into their car Carolyn handed me her phone and told me to call anyone who needed to know I had arrived. I was astounded by such thoughtfulness.
What makes people act like this? What transforms chance acquaintances into love extended? What causes women to give so generously to a missionary child whom they have never met? It can be nothing but the irresistible presence of the Holy Spirit. That presence that always soothes, heals and cheers. My hope is that I would be just as kind to all the strangers I meet along the way so that God’s presence can become tangible because all are carrying some sort of sorrow or burden. Every last one of us is in need of His touch, and especially those strangers we brush up against as we go about our day.