The kindness of a stranger


There is much evil and bad news in the world.  It’s easy to succumb to anger or despair.  On the flip side, the many distractions offered to us make is almost as easy to turn a blind eye and live on in a world of ignorant (or at least dismissive) bliss.  For those of us with a deep concern for what is happening around us, we daily face the challenge of what a balanced life should look like.

For me, part of a healthy balance involves looking for the good in life, and choosing to be part of that good.  I’m not talking about a Kumbuya kind of good, but purposeful blessing. When we have opportunity to go out of our way to show love, grace and kindness to another human being, we should take it.

I have been fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of the kindness of others many times over.  This week I was reminded about one particular situation in 2014 that made a tremendous impact on me.

In a season where flying to a broadcast conference was out of the question financially, God provided, through the generosity of others, gifts that included airfare, registration and a hotel room.  The only thing I hadn’t secured before my departure was money for food.  I packed granola bars and trail mix, figuring that if worse came to worse, I’d just change a few meals on my credit card.

Boarding the plane to take me on my journey to Nashville, I sat next to gentleman and quickly fell into conversation with him.  He has a fascinating life story and he shared with me aspects of his professional life, and why he had been in New Mexico.  He went on to tell about his father-in-law, a famous artist, his wife who was renown in the world of pattern making, and many other amazing tales.

I shared with him about why I was traveling to Nashville, God’s provision for my journey so far, and what I hoped to accomplish both at the conference, and professionally.  I think it’s safe to say that we filled two hours with conversation, on a wide variety of topics.

When it was time to leave the plane, he asked me to follow him.  I hesitated for a moment, but then walked behind as he strode quickly and purposefully down the concourse.  He stopped suddenly in front of an ATM, punched in a few numbers then turned to shake my hand.  He wished me luck as he palmed me a stack of folded bills.

Shocked, I asked if there was anything I could do for him.  He simply answered that he’d like prayer to be a man of integrity in business and at home.  Then, he turned and continued to his next destination.  I opened my hand and saw $200 dollars.  It was more than enough to cover my food costs for my time at the conference.

I share this story for a few reasons.  First, I hope that it serves as a reminder that there is goodness and kindness in this world.  Secondly, I hope that it will prompt us all to be on the lookout for others who could use a gentle touch, word, or action from us.

Lastly, in the hopes that his kind gentleman might somehow stumble upon this narrative, I want him to know what an impact he made upon me.  By choosing to invest into a stranger on a plane, he planted a seed that has continued to grow.

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