One early morning, perhaps around seven o’clock, I was sitting in a booth in a local diner relaxing over a cup of coffee and a good book. This is my usual morning routine. I set my alarm to wake up early every day so I can enjoy this ritual even before I have to go to work. This day happened to be a Saturday, a day off, so I could linger and enjoy the morning for as long as I pleased. I was enjoying my book so much, I really wasn’t paying attention to the other diner patrons. This is rather unusual for me. I am a notorious people watcher. I read a few pages, watch the people, read a few more pages, watch a few more people… I found it so difficult to ignore all of the kind, loving, silly things people do. I don’t always get into long conversation with people. Even though, I try to be pleasant, my basic shyness stops me from actually speaking to anyone, other than the basic social graces of “Hello,” “Please,” “Thank you.” This morning, I sipped my coffee and kept my eyes moving across the pages, absorbing every word.
“That must be a good book,” I suddenly heard a gruff voice say.
Startled, I looked up at the man sitting at the table next to mine. He was an elderly Hispanic man, quite large, with soft beautiful brown eyes, and a sweet round face.
“It is,” I answered as I peered at him over the top of the book. “I’m really enjoying it.” I turned my eyes back down to the page.
“What’s it about?” he asked then.
“It’s called Kisses from Katie,” I told him. “It’s an amazing true story. It’s about this 18-year-old American girl who moves to Uganda. She went there to bring clean water, food, and hope to the people. She started schools and hospitals. She also adopted thirteen of the young girls she had taken into her school. She is creating a great home for them.” I was surprised that I had said so much to this stranger, but I loved this book. It was so inspiring and touched my heart in so many amazing ways. I wondered as I read this book, if I would ever have the courage, dedication, and faith that Katie demonstrated.
The man continued to ask me questions and I gave the best answers I could. He spoke in a thick, coarse accent and stumbled over a few words. We had to repeat our questions and answers to each other a few times, but we both seemed to enjoy this experience. Next thing I knew, I was actually sitting next to this man at his table, showing him the pictures in the book of Katie in Uganda with her adopted children. Together, we looked at the pictures of Katie taking care of the children in the hospital and teaching in the school.
Suddenly the man said, “She is an amazing girl.”
I answered, “She was following Jesus. She claims He called her and she had pure faith to answer and believe.”
Suddenly, as the man stood up from the table, he looked me right in the eyes, and said, “Prepare. Soon, Jesus will be calling you.”
His words took me by surprise and I looked away for just a moment in confusion. When I glanced up again, the man was gone. Just suddenly gone. I had only turned away for the briefest of moments and he had disappeared. I glanced around the diner quickly but I didn’t know where he had gone. I hadn’t heard footsteps or the door squeak open and close. I didn’t see him leave or get to say a final good-bye. I had looked away for just a second…and he was gone. But his final words stayed with me.
Ever since that day, I have been praying for Jesus to call me. I’ve been looking for burning bushes and parted seas. But there has been nothing. No miraculous interventions or sudden miracles. I went on with my days. I continued to teach and guide my students in my classroom. I continued to buy groceries for the homeless family down the street. I continued to offer comfort to the people who were alone. I continued to enjoy nature and marvel at the beauty of a sunrise. I continued to pray and count my blessings every night.
One morning, as I sat in that same diner where I had the amazing encounter with a sweet stranger, I read my book, sipped my coffee, watched the people…and suddenly realized that Jesus had called me every day of my life.