I was standing barefoot on my porch, holding my dirt-stained hands away from my mustard yellow skirt, squinting in the sunlight, when my friend Diane stopped at my front stoop.
She greeted me with her cheery smile and wondered if I actually lived here, so close to Valeskys Supermarket, where I used to work, back when Diane started her job in the deli.
I greeted her and smiled back, but felt inwardly annoyed at the interruption. I had a whole to-do list to complete in the next two hours and I needed to stay focused on my goals. Yes, this is my home, I affirmed, and turning to go, she said, “Nice to see you, Renee,” as genuine as anyone ever has been.
What was it that made the words pop out of my mouth, stopping her from continuing down the street? I don’t work at Valesky’s anymore, Diane, so it was good to see you. It’s been awhile. How have you been, Diane?
We talked, and I told Diane why I wasn’t working with all my friends at Valesky’s anymore, that Jesus had laid it on my heart to stop working and start pouring my time and energy into ministry and people and classes. What was it about her that made me talk, telling her how so many people don’t understand and how there are some things you just do in obedience to God that humanly don’t make sense?
And she nodded her head in exuberant affirmation and approval and told me, “Renee, I shouldn’t be here talking to you right now. I should be dead. My house should have blown up…with me in it.” She told me of her recent gas leak and feeling faint and her neighbors who smelled it across the street and came to help.
“Diane,” I exclaimed, “Jesus has a plan for you!”
“Yes, yes, Renee! He does!” She showed me the I love Jesus pin on her Valesky’s hat, “He has a special plan. He does!” She was getting so excited, pure joy just bubbling out. “There are so many things we can’t fully understand and explain…but He has a special plan!”
She told me she wants to bring Jesus to Valesky’s and her world and in that simple sun-splashed moment on my front porch, my stress melted in Diane’s peace, this simple, joy-filled woman bringing Jesus to me.
Someone once said that our interruptions are His appointments.
“I can feel discouraged sometimes,” she said, telling me of a recent customer she waited on who was rude and mocked her. “But you know,” She went on, “After that lady left, I told Michelle, ‘the world didn’t give me the joy in my heart, and they sure can’t take it away from me!”
I walked down my front steps and wrapped my dirt-stained hands around Diane’s broad shoulders. “Thanks, Diane. It was so good to see you.”
She squeezed back. “Yes, I should get to work.”
“Have a good evening, Diane!” I called after her, “Jesus lives in you!”
What is it about speaking words of blessing over another person’s life that makes your own heart feel lighter and blessed? Was it my imagination or was she half-dancing down the street?
“YES! He is, Renee. And in you! Jesus lives!”
My own feet danced as I bounded back up my porch steps.
There is joy in my heart.
Joys on Water Street…chasing my naked nephew Joseph back to my front porch.
My porch, with its peeling paint and sun-splashed GOD moments.