A stranger named Kevin

I spent the past week at an awesome training conference for work. The team leading us raved about restaurants in the area, so I was excited to explore when it came to lunch time the first day. I asked God, “God, where should I go to lunch today?” and scrolled through restaurant reviews on Google. My phone literally froze when I landed on this one restaurant, so I took that as God and hopped in my car.

I ordered my reuben sandwich and sat on the restaurant’s back patio. It was a neat space because all of the restaurants on the street had connected back patios. After I got my food, I asked God, “God, why did you pick this restaurant?” An older man walked outside and commented on the beautiful day, so I asked God, “God, is he why you sent me here?” The man seemed comfortable alone, however, so I continued to eat my lunch. As I was finishing the sandwich, a guy about my age came walking over — directly to me. “Hey,” he said. “My name is Kevin.” His beard was a bit disheveled and I thought he was going to ask for money, but he said, “I struggle with social anxiety so I have been practicing talking to strangers.” I thought that was so courageous so we chatted for a bit and I invited him to join me at the table.

After a few basic questions (where are you from? where did you go to school? what do you do?), I asked him about the social anxiety and his experience going up to strangers. I imagined he had some pretty cool interactions and possibly some difficult ones, too. He said most people were nice, nothing earth shattering had happened, but that the practice was really helping him step out of his fear. I was amazed at his bravery.

I noticed a tattoo on his wrist that said, “Pain is weakness turning into strength.” I thought it was so cool and it reminded me of the verse in the Bible, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). I asked him about his tattoo and the story behind it. He shared a little bit about the challenges in his life, but also some of the good things, too. His eyes lit up when he talked about his passion for music.

The parking meter where I left my car was about to expire, so I asked Kevin if I could pray for him and his journey before I left. He said yes and I prayed. I don’t remember the words, but my heart overflowed with love. When I finished, Kevin looked a bit stunned. He said, “I’ve never heard someone with such passion and strength like that.” So I shared with him how I felt like God spoke those words through me. How I felt like God led me to this restaurant that day. How I thought the reason was so I could meet him. That God sees him and deeply loves him and will send a girl who lives three hours away to a specific place on a random Monday afternoon just to show him that He’s there for him. That He sees what he’s going through. That He cares.

I told Kevin that I didn’t know his faith journey, but that Christianity all about love. Jesus is love and He pursues us just like He did today. I told him about a church in the area and he said, “If this is what Jesus is like, I want to go.” With a big smile and a great big hug (and a parking meter that’s expired for 10 minutes — sorry, law enforcement) we departed, both of us overflowing with joy.

There’s a new song that’s out called “Reckless Love.” In it, the songwriter writes, “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine.” The line refers to a Bible verse, “If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” (Matthew 18:12). That’s God’s heart for all of us. His love goes to great lengths to find us every single day.

You matter to God. You matter infinitely more than you could ever think or imagine. His love for you is deep. It is strong. It is mighty. He longs to fill all of the gaps you feel are missing. He longs to fill you up with love and hope and joy. Pour your heart out to him today. He treasures your thoughts. He treasures your tears and your pain and your laughter and your joy. He treasures everything about you. And just as Jesus pursued us in the greatest way 2,000 years ago, He continues to pursue you every day of your life.

Joyfully,
Lauren

“I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
-Ephesians 3:17–19

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