“Can I ask you a question?”
It was an unlikely interruption – I was sitting in the waiting room at my mechanic’s, working on some paperwork while my car was having some work done. (At -10, I pay someone else to be the grease monkey. I’m good with it.)
So, once we got aside the basic information that it was a useful tool for my work, we got into a conversation about religion and church and ministry and familyThe question the man wanted to ask me was about my computer. Not why I prefer one model over another, but why I could possibly need a laptop at all. Not why I don’t use a tablet or phone, but why I would have any need for a computer. He was more dumbfounded when I told him I wasn’t playing games online or checking my email; I was just doing paperwork (the parish newsletter, actually).
It was an interesting time, if unlikely. (Have you ever discussed Swedenborgism and computers and family history in a mechanics?!) But it was good, and while I still had some work to do, I felt it had been time well spent. It wasn’t just time spent in idle chitchat, it was connecting with another person in sharing an experience, in sharing a bit of the faith, of sharing a bit of life.
After all, isn’t that what ministry is all about? Connecting with people, no matter how unexpected or unlikely it may seem at the time. We never know what may happen when we do open ourselves up to these opportunities. I’ve had any number of unique and fun discussions that popped up seemingly out of nowhere. I’ve had any number of ministry opportunities come to light out of those unlikely, unexpected conversations.
I don’t think that these experiences are just coincidental; I think they’re allowing me the chance to grow and see/hear/recognize God active in my life. These random and unplanned times are when I am being invited to take a step back from my plan and instead embrace the world in front of me – literally – as an expression of what is possible.
God tends to work like that – using the unlikely, the unexpected, the (humanly) unplanned. Samuel was just a boy; John the Baptist was a smelly bushman who avoided the city, Jesus was the child of an unwed mother and raised by a carpenter. Imagine all the people these folks met; imagine the ones who didn’t engage with them because they were too busy, too put off, too uninterested. Yet we know what God made possible through some amazing opportunities that people just had to recognize.
I’m not suggesting that my mechanic-wait-room conversation was with someone who is going to change the world; I’m not suggesting that he won’t. I simply don’t know. But I do know that had I not engaged with the man when he started the conversation, my day would have been a bit more bland, a bit less human, a bit uneventful. Instead, I made a connection, just for a little while. And that connection was worth the interruption.