When You Least Expect Him

Encountering God in an airport terminal

Last Saturday night, I had to catch a red-eye to the east coast, to attend a conference that was beginning on Sunday.  I had the pleasure of driving Ruthie to the airport as well, who was heading for the same flight and the same conference. We parked, took the shuttle van to the terminal, and started walking toward the gate. As we were approaching the security check, Ruthie suddenly realized that she was without her jacket, which meant that she was also without her phone and her wallet. “Oh no! I left my jacket in your car!” This was bad.

 But bad soon became worse. As we were debating whether or not we had enough time to get back to the parking lot and still catch the flight, I realized that her jacket was not in my car. I had a distinct mental image of Ruthie placing her jacket on the luggage rack in the shuttle van. Now what?

I pulled out my own phone and frantically began to search for a phone number for the parking lot, wondering how, even if I reached someone there, we’d ever get this jacket back before the flight – or at all. As I was dialing, we saw a figure running toward us through the terminal, holding a jacket aloft in his outstretched hand. Wow. We barely had time to thank him, before he had to run back to his now unattended van.

Moments later, as we waited on the security line, Ruthie and I had a chance to reflect on the strange phenomenon that we often encounter God when we least expect Him. So often, when we are actively searching for Him, we come up empty. And then, out of nowhere, there He is. In one human being’s concern for another, in an act of selfless kindness for a stranger.  An act of generosity, inspired by an awareness and appreciation of the One whose kindness extends to all.   

And then, a moment later, God slips back out of view. Leaving behind His hope that we are newly reminded that He is in fact, always here.

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