Divine Appointments: Nice to Meet you Wendell Gibson

I was shopping this week, in the men’s department, minding my own business and pretty engrossed in the search.  I was looking at sports coats at the time and the gentleman next to me says, “are you looking for your son?”  I smiled and said, “yes.”  He said, “this here is a beautiful coat.  I really wish it would fit me, but it is way too small.  That is one good deal for that coat.” It was such a thoughtful gesture.  We seemed to connect right away, as though we were comfortable strangers.  I was unsure if my teenager would have the same style as this older man next to me, but I owed it to him to entertain the idea.  I made a polite response, “well, teenagers sure are hard to buy for; I can never be certain that what I like, my son will also like and appreciate.”

Somehow, those few words sparked another fifteen minute conversation.  We talked about our ages: he is twenty five years my senior.  We talked about his growing up with twelve siblings and his mamma living to be 99 years when she passed.  I shared that my husband was raised with ten siblings and also on a farm.  We harmonized on our concerns of lost work ethic due to the dying family farming industry.

Halfway into the conversation he felt lead to share with me what his mamma told him on her dying bed.  He began, “she told me…..” but the tears overwhelmed him and the words just would not get past his lips.  He choked up, tears rolling, he grabbed his shopping cart with his right hand as he extended his left hand to me waving goodbye as if saying, ‘I am sorry, I just cannot talk now, but it was nice meeting you.’ 

I had such a love for this man that I had met only minutes before.  I asked God for the words.  I said, “she shared something of her faith with you didn’t she?” I smiled and looked at him with love and was ready to let him go, but he remained.  He gathered his composure.  He said, “Yes, she told me to get my house in order.”  He said it very sincerely.  I knew he had received that charge from the mamma he loved and respected, who had “stayed strong in her Baptist faith all her life.”

You see, God uses every opportunity for us to share his love and his message with people.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” Ephesians 5:15-16a NIV

It is no coincidence that I had been studying in Matthew “the last will be first and the first will be last.”  As I interpret that verse, it means that Wendell has opportunity to meet his mamma again in heaven.  God doesn’t say that he keeps a scorecard or that it takes a certain number of years to be qualified to enter eternity.  Yes, his mom had faith for many, many years but in God’s economy and generosity Wendell will have the same inheritance as his faith-filled mom, at his ripe age of 72.  I challenged him by saying that Moses was also a late bloomer: he came back to the LORD at the age of 40 and started his greatest work at the age of 80. “You see, you still have a lot of life ahead of you, so listen to your Mamma.  And I will be praying for you, Wendell Gibson.”

We parted and I had such a joy in my heart.  I had an absolute certainty that God had placed the two of us together on that very day.  He had directed my study that week, He had given me additional wisdom and words to encourage and to challenge Mr. Gibson.  I walked away with the feeling you get when you meet a new best friend.  I pondered about all that I could learn from a man who had lived in a time ahead of me; who had faced challenges because of the color of his skin that I had never encountered.  What would it be like as the youngest of five boys and brother to seven sisters.  I wondered how they made the ends meet.  I hope that I have an opportunity to meet Wendell again and learn from him on this earth.  But somehow I have a strong feeling that we will meet again one day.  And I look forward to meeting Mrs. Gibson then too!



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jen VanWormer
    Feb 28, 2014 @ 23:45:41

    How exciting Kim!!! Love those divine appointments!




  2. kellyp
    Mar 12, 2014 @ 22:25:21

    Oh Kim, this is such a wonderful God-story! As much as I love to read your written word, you sharing this story in class with the rest of the gals would be an amazing way to bless us!! I am so glad you captured this memory of your predestined encounter with Mr. Gibson. What a wonderful 15 minutes – a glimpse into heaven here on earth. What sweet fellowship with a forever family member! I am loving your blog. Keep writing and sharing. Xoxoxox


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