CHANCE ENCOUNTER OF THE DIVINE KIND
When plans change or we suddenly change our mind without knowing why, look out! It could be a Divine interruption in our day. Has that happened to you before? What were the circumstances? Did you meet someone new? Or run into an old friend? Maybe you find yourself making small talk with a stranger that turned out to be more significant than you thought. Let me share my story. As usual, I’ve changed the names to protect the privacy of patients and their families.
I completed my hospital visit around eleven p.m. Tired and ready to get home, I pushed the button for the elevator, but decided to run into the lady’s room next door first. I put my hand on the bathroom door and the elevator dinged its arrival. No matter, I’ll use the one downstairs. Arriving at the first floor, I left the elevator for the lady’s room. It was empty when I went in, but when I came out of the stall to wash my hands, a young thirty-something woman stood with her back to the sink. Quick eye contact. I washed my hands, and she turned to face the mirror. Again, eye contact. I smiled. She responded with a sad smile, her eyes red-rimmed. I dried my hands and turned to leave the restroom. Then I heard it. An inner voice that said one word: “Speak.”
I glanced back over my shoulder as I tossed the used hand towel. “Are you okay?”
She shook her head. “No.”
I moved back to her side. “I’m sorry. What’s wrong?”
She started crying. “My brother-in-law. He’s in the emergency room and…” she hesitated. “It’s not good.”
I put my hand on the young woman’s shoulder, and she cried for a few minutes before explaining he’d been fighting cancer for over five years. “Now he just can’t fight anymore.”
I hugged her. Not knowing what else to do, I asked, “Can I pray for him?”
“Oh yes,” she quickly responded and took both my hands. “Let’s pray for Jimmy.”
I don’t remember the words I used, but I prayed that God would give Jimmy and his family comfort and peace; and give wisdom to the doctors. We don’t always know and understand God’s will, but I prayed His will be done in the situation. Then, my new friend, Marie, said a short prayer and we hugged. It was as if we’d known one another for years. We agreed we felt like long-lost sisters or something. I asked if Jimmy believed in life after death and she said she didn’t know. She didn’t think so because she’d tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen to her. We prayed again for God to open Jimmy’s heart and send someone to talk to him—someone he would listen to. We stood in that first-floor bathroom for nearly an hour, praying and talking. Marie was a missionary and often spoke to people about God’s love and mercy. I explained I had first stopped at the restroom on the second floor. She admitted she had no idea why she had even come to the lady’s room, she didn’t have to use it. She’d just felt the need to come to this restroom, and not the one in the ER. We both laughed at how God had planned our meeting. Marie’s faith was so strong, it occurred to me I might be in the presence of an Angel.
My clipboard, sitting on the sink, had the name of my hospice company where I worked, and she asked for a business card. I gave her my name and number.
“Please call me, anytime you need to talk or pray. I will keep you and Jimmy and your family in my prayers.”
She thanked me, we hugged again, and said goodbye. As I drove out of the hospital parking lot, I wanted to go back and find Marie and Jimmy. Why hadn’t I offered to pray with Jimmy tonight—share my belief in life after death? I wanted to go back and help him find hope, but I only knew their first names. I’d have to search each cubicle to find them. I turned onto the road leading home and prayed, knowing God could answer prayers with or without my being present. I felt blessed and gratified with a smile I couldn’t erase. I’d had a chance encounter. God had a plan to help this young woman find peace and a friend, and He allowed me to participate. Thank you, Lord.
The next day, I awoke with the incident on my mind, and again prayed for Marie and Jimmy, and their family. When given report for my shift that night, I was told I had a new admission in the Emergency Department, named Jimmy. My jaw dropped, my eyes widened, and my heart beat faster. Surely this was “my” Jimmy. I couldn’t wait to see Marie again and meet Jimmy and the family. And sure enough, when I arrived, Marie was there. I was thrilled.
“I knew it was going to be you,” she said and hugged me. “I just knew it!” Her excitement was contagious. She introduced me to Jimmy’s wife and teenage daughter, along with the rest of his family. They greeted me with hugs. Jimmy was wearing an oxygen mask and appeared asleep. He opened his eyes, but was so weak he could hardly speak. He began to mouth words I didn’t understand. His family came close, and as they communicated in Spanish, I prayed. They introduced me, and he smiled weakly. Afterward, I spoke to the ED doctor and nurse managing his care. Then, his wife and her sister met me in a small area where we discussed the hospice philosophy and end of life progression. Resigned, his wife had accepted Jimmy would not get any better, and said he was tired of fighting the cancer. I consoled her and allowed her to grieve and ask questions. Once she signed the admission paperwork, we moved back to the ED cubicle where I completed the nursing assessment and admitted Jimmy to hospice. He and his family were grateful.
Before leaving, I asked Jimmy again if he were in pain. “No,” he said.
I watched his face. He looked tortured. Though he wasn’t in physical pain, I could see he was still hurting. I heard the internal voice: “Pray.” My own heart pounded, and I fought apprehension. I didn’t know if it would upset him or his family. I swallowed. “Can I pray for you?” I asked.
Our eyes met. “Yes,” he said clearly, and nodded his head.
Immediately, I felt excitement in the room. The family gathered around the bed and held hands. I took Jimmy’s hand and my new friend Marie’s. Leaning toward his ear, I prayed for God to reveal Himself to Jimmy, for Jimmy to know he didn’t have to be afraid, that he could trust God to take care of his family. I prayed for him to know and trust God for his own life—to feel God’s mighty presence and know without doubt that Jesus Christ made a way for him to have life after this and to know he could see his family again someday. Honestly, I began to feel Jimmy’s anxiety. He tried to sit up. I hesitated. Should I stop praying? I didn’t know, but I continued to pray aloud as we helped him sit up. I prayed for God to give him peace and courage. Then closed the prayer in Jesus’ name. Exhausted, Jimmy laid back down. I hoped I hadn’t worn him out, but his family assured me I had done the right thing to pray for him. Then, Jimmy nodded in agreement and breathlessly thanked me for praying.
I wrote the doctor’s orders and gave report to the ED nurse, then returned to the cubicle where we all exchanged hugs again. I left blessed. Had I not gone to the first-floor lady’s room the night before; had I not turned back and prayed for Marie; and had I not given her my name and number, I would have missed this divine encounter. I know God could have used someone else, but I thank Him for using me. Jimmy passed away less than twenty-four hours later. Though I don’t know Jimmy’s spiritual outcome, I do know I was honored and blessed to be a part of God’s plan.
Next time you find yourself in an unplanned situation, watch for a chance encounter of the Divine kind. Let God interrupt your day—say, “Yes”, when He invites you to be part of His plan.
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