We'd just walked into Walmart on the coldest day of the year. There were no shopping carts in the corral, so Phil volunteered to go outside and get one. I moved deeper into the store, away from the cold blast of air that came in each time the automatic door opened and found myself standing near a growing stack of Coca Cola products. I watched as a young black man lifted and stacked cases one on top of another. After a few minutes, I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit. "Talk to him about me."
So, I walked over to the man and said, "That's the best song ever, isn't it?" Before he could answer, I noticed he had earbuds in his ears and wondered if he'd heard my question. Pulling one out he said, "Yeh." And I continued, "Don't you just love Dobie Gray's, Drift Away?" Day after day, I'm more confused... the music played on as I talked to the young man. I was thankful I had his attention. He stopped working and listened as I said, "Can I ask you a question?" He answered, "Sure, Ma'am." I said, "How can I pray for you today?" I could see him take a step back and slightly hesitate before answering. He said, "Wow. Just wow. I don't believe it." I asked what he didn't believe and he said, "I was just having a moment and then you came up." I asked his name and he said, "Howard." I said, "Howard, my name is Bonnie. Let's step over here and I'm going to pray for you." I took his arm and we moved to the side of the cases of cola, out of the line of foot traffic entering the store. Bowing my head, I began to pray.
I don't know how long we stood there and I can't remember exactly what I said. I know the Holy Spirit was giving me the words and Howard was listening. When I ended the prayer, I looked up and Howard's eyes were filled with tears. I told him that God cared about him and He planned our meeting on this day. Howard agreed that God had brought us together. I wished him well and turned to see my husband standing there with the cart. As we moved toward the produce, I turned to smile and wave goodbye to Howard.
Moving up and down the aisles, we gathered various grocery items packing our cart to the brim. As we pulled onto the aisle with cases of water, there was Howard again. I smiled a big smile, pointed, and said, "HEY! We've got to stop meeting like this." He smiled a huge smile and said, "I knew I'd see you again." I walked closer to him and he said, "Can I have a hug?" I gave him a big bear hug and turned to walk away but remembered something in my purse. Reaching inside, I pulled out a small, leather CWT New Testament I'd been given many years earlier when I was part of the Christian Witnessing Training program. I'd cherished that slimline Bible and loved that it fit so neatly in my purse, but at that very moment, I felt like I was supposed to give it to Howard.
Turning to John 14, I slipped the book marker in place and handed it to him. I asked him to read John 14 and 15 when he had time. I told him I'd marked it for him and though the Bible was in the King James translation, I told him God would help him understand it. Before I left, I read him verse 1 of chapter 14 aloud, "Do not let your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me." Howard looked stunned and said, "Wow" again. Digging through my purse, I tried to find a pen. I wanted to inscribe something in the Bible for Howard but couldn't find one. I was frustrated. I always have a pen in my purse because I'm always writing, but for some reason, today, I didn't have one.
I asked Phil if he'd mind running over to the school supply area and picking up a pen for me. I assumed I'd see Howard again before we left the store and then I'd have a chance to inscribe the Bible for him. While Phil went to get the pen, I continued shopping.
Fifteen or so minutes passed before we crossed paths with Howard again. This time, he spoke first, "I knew I'd see you one more time before you left the store!" He sounded excited and happy. I grinned at him and said, " I want to write something in your Bible for you." He handed it to me and I wrote a sweet sentiment for him. As I handed the book back to him, he said, "I'll never forget this day."
We didn't see Howard again as we made our way to the front of the store to check out, but I prayed our conversation blessed him. I don't know why God allowed our paths to cross but I could tell that Howard was struggling.
Over the years, I've learned to stop and obey when the Holy Spirit speaks to my heart and prompts me to witness to someone. In those times, I've come to the realization that I was not only giving, but receiving a blessing.
I could have pretended not to hear the Holy Spirit's voice when He said, "Tell him about me." I could have kept walking past the young black man stacking boxes. I could have never looked him in the eyes or spoken a word to him and he would have kept on working - nothing about his day being different in any way. But God. God wanted me to have a close encounter. He wanted me to SEE Howard. He wanted me to care about Howard's needs. He wanted me to share some of Christ's love with Howard.
I have no idea what Howard was dealing with. He didn't share a lot of detail about his life. Even though I don't know his needs, God does, and when we were praying, I asked God to meet each of Howard's needs in a very special way so I'm sure He will.
I told Howard I wanted to see him in heaven and I sure hope I'll get to see him there one day. There are so many people living their lives in a state of confusion, especially in these rocky times in our world. It seems we're all sort of drifting away, but we don't have to. Those of us who know the truth of God's Word have to be ready to share the hope of our future with others. We have to give them something to cling to - the one and only something- Someone who matters - Jesus.
If you ever hear a tiny whisper in the back of your mind that says, "Tell them about me.." Do it! God will use your obedience and He will bless it. I know. He's done it over and over again for me.