“It’s nothing like this in New York.”

While waiting for her groceries to be bagged, an older woman with a quick wit lectured the cashier and anyone else who would listen as to the various ways people “down here” are more helpful than the grocery attendants in NY.  Somehow she managed to segue into an Obama rant in mere seconds, instantly losing the interest of bystanders.

As I gently coaxed her out the door with me, I had the feeling I could’ve taken up a donation at that very moment and received enough money for Piper’s college education…but I digress.

With her car parked next to mine in the vast Publix parking lot, I sensed the need to trust God to keep my shrimp chilled since I was smack dab in the middle of a divine encounter.

The spunky woman described how difficult it was being a Christ-follower while living on the outskirts of NY for 35 years, and the freedom they’ve experienced since moving south. I, in turn, shared my concerns that many here stumble over the churches forged on every corner, confusing their exposure to a building with true salvation.

In those fifteen minutes, we never exchanged names but we did exchange laughter, community, encouragement — and our personal stories of salvation. Oh, the looks we received from passersby — but we didn’t care.

After adding one last concern for Christ followers during this election season, she thanked me for listening and said, “If Obama is elected, I’ll see you in heaven!”

I smiled and reassured her I’d see her there regardless of the outcome.

I wish I could say that I always pause to put people first, but too often I’m concerned about the perishables becoming goop in my grocery bags, staying on task, or checking off a “to-do” from my schedule. Sigh.

As we waved and drove away, I marveled at the sovereignty of God, the power of our personal stories, and the thread of familial ties that bind each of His children together…now and forever.