Ordinary Life - Extraordinary Faith

Beautiful Waste

Beautiful Waste

I first heard of Sara Hagerty several years ago when a friend sent me a link to the trailer for her first book.  I played it over and over and over.  I listened in wonder, it was like she knew.   It was as if she’d somehow heard the deepest whispers of my heart, like she read my journal, like she’d listened in on those quiet moments when no one but God could hear. 

It seems she’s done it again.  I’ve told you about a book I’d been reading over the summer.  This is it. Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World that Loves to Be Noticed”  The last year has been possibly the hardest yet.  And this summer, as a few of us insane girls gathered for 5am coffee and study of this book, something began to break. 

I began to feel myself breathe again, to come alive again.  These words were the salve to a soul that needed to be acknowledged, to be seen, to be understood. 

It is an honor to step outside the boat with Sara today…    

 

I’d been in a suit and heels since 5:00 a.m., and after a full morning, I was at the

airport for an early afternoon flight home—home to a husband, but no children. 

I’d recently started to crave more. I wanted more from my sales support job. I wasn’t

tired of doing it or even tired of the desk work and the travel, but I was tired of working

for little more than sales goals and a paycheck. I wanted more than productivity and

success. I wanted brushes with God and meaning and almost anything that mattered but

wasn’t easily measured.

My work for the day was done and I was tired, but my heart was hungry, and I was

beginning to like heart hunger. So I prayed: God, I want to meet with You in this airport.

Meeting Him required quieting my insides enough to hear and respond. The kind of

dialogue I was learning to have with God burgeoned when I saw it as an exchange—my  mind for His thoughts, my fear for His assurance, my whispers for His response. As I

made my way to a restaurant near my gate, I noticed an elderly gentleman who was being

pushed in a wheelchair. I prayed for God to breathe life and strength into his frail body. I

saw a man running as fast as my mind usually worked, and I prayed his racing heart

would come to know Jesus. I saw a young woman with vacant eyes, and I prayed she

would find the filling her heart most needed. I realized afresh that the people all around

me weren’t merely interesting. They were God-created. I wanted to talk to Him about

what He had made.

God, what do You see in the man who is late for his flight? And the one in the

wheelchair—how do You see the heart buried underneath that broken body? Rather than

looking at people as faces among the masses, I asked for His eyes for them and

responded with minute-long prayers: God, I want to meet You in this airport.

No one knew this conversation I was having in my head with God. And I was starting

to like these secret exchanges.

At the restaurant, I grabbed the last available seat at the bar, which was full of day

travelers with carry-ons. As I scooted up onto my stool and glanced at the laminated

menu, I noticed the gentleman sitting next to me. He looked to be near retirement, but he

was dressed for business. I was drawn to him in the way you’re drawn to someone who is

not at all like you, but with whom you feel a strange connection.

Maybe I’m supposed to share the gospel with this man, I thought. I ordered my food

and opened my book, trying to concentrate on reading while staying aware of what felt

like a nudge from God.

Ten minutes later when the waitress brought out my order along with that of the man

next to me, I noticed that we both had ordered the same meal. I awkwardly mumbled a

comment about it, looking for a way to begin a conversation. But my voice, perhaps too

quiet from nerves, got lost in a salvo of loudspeaker announcements. He hadn’t heard me.

I went back to my book, resigned that I’d misread God’s cues.

The book I was reading explored the concept of abiding in the vine from John 15. The

author used the notion of tree grafting to illustrate this abiding. After hours of client

presentations on throbbing feet, my mind couldn’t absorb the words. I read and reread the

same paragraph, but without comprehension. And then this prompt dropped into my

mind: Ask the man sitting next to you to explain it.

Uh-oh, I thought.

As much as I wanted to hear from God, I knew that we humans sometimes mishear

Him and mistake our mental wanderings for His voice. What should I do? Talk to the

man and risk awkwardness and embarrassment? Or not talk to him and risk missing what

might well be God’s answer to my prayer to meet with Him in this airport?

Well, at least I’ll never see this guy again, I thought. So I went for it.

“Sir, excuse me,” I said, much louder this time, almost shouting to compensate for my

nerves.

He startled. “Yes?” he said, raising his eyebrows like the authoritative boss of a fresh

college grad.

“Do you know anything about grafting?” I coughed out.

“What?” he asked.

Oh no. I had to say it again. This business exec didn’t even seem to know what the

word meant.

“Grafting, sir. Do you know anything about grafting?” My face was red hot.

“It’s funny you should ask,” he said. I noticed tears welling up in the corners of his

eyes.

My heart started racing.

“I majored in agriculture in college and I minored in grafting. I run a farm equipment

business but have gotten away from what I once loved.”

Now I was sure I could actually hear my heart, not just feel the pounding.

He stretched back on his stool, took off his glasses, and rubbed his eyes. Then he

enthusiastically explained the details of how the branch of one tree is grafted into another

as if he were telling me a page-turning story. I showed him the paragraph in my book and

asked him questions. He made it all so clear.

I’m not sure if I was more surprised that the prompt to talk to this man really was

from God, or that God was personal enough to meet me at an airport barstool.

Apparently, God was meeting this man too, right over his hamburger and French fries.

He thanked me after our exchange as if he’d been reminded of his boyish love for trees

and for grafting, a love that needed rediscovering.

Twelve years later, this conversation remains my most memorable business trip. Still.

I can’t remember where I’d gone or even who I met with on that trip. I remember it only

because I’d felt seen and heard by God.

God showed up when I was in my suit and heels, and He winked. We shared a secret.

During those days of client presentations, excel spreadsheets, and conference calls, He was whispering, I want to meet with you, here. What I might once have considered a

waste of time—conversation with Him in the midst of a demanding day—became,

instead, food for my hungry heart. It was a gift of hiddenness during a season when my

work required me to be on during the workday.

God’s currency is communion—a relationship that grows, nearer still. A relationship

that is cultivated when no one else is looking. A relationship accessed not just when we

feel we need His help but at all the odd times that punctuate our agenda-driven days. A

depth of relationship that feeds the recipient in the way that productivity and

accomplishment just cannot.

What a waste. What a beautiful waste.

 

Friends, the words of this book give life.  They speak to a sacred purpose that resides deep and gives substance.  Pick up your copy today!  OR Zondervan would like to give away one FREE copy.  Simply comment below and be entered into the drawing!  Don’t wait, the drawing is next Monday!

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