I was looking forward to the long train ride home after an exhausting weekend of speaking to and challenging the hearts of many women; engaging and ministering amongst them. Knowing the effects of such weekends, months earlier I’d booked a train ticket; with a seat by the window so I could mindlessly stare into space and eventually close my eyes to the lulling clickety-clack of the train on its track. However, upon boarding, I discovered someone else was sitting in my seat. I came to find out that due to overbooking, nobody was in their designated seat.
Fortunately, there was another one available nearby that remained unoccupied. While it was not my desired window seat, I politely asked the woman seated there if she’d mind if I joined her. “Of course not.” She smiled back. “I’m not in the right seat either.”
As I made myself comfortable she asked, “So do you have any exciting plans in Toronto?” (our destination). I replied, “I hope not! The only excitement will be not having enough time to catch my connecting train headed home to Ottawa. To be polite, I asked, “How about you?”
She then went on to tell me that she was on her way to participate in a radio interview on addiction. Picking up on the sensitive topic at hand, but recognizing a familiar openness to sharing more about it, I carefully worded my next question. “I’m guessing that you have some insight into addiction?” “Yes.” She replied, before sadly disclosing that four-and-a-half years earlier she’d very tragically lost her 24-year-old son to an addiction. Immediately connecting to her pain and loss, I shared that, while under very different circumstances, I too had lost a son only ten short years earlier.
You can imagine for yourself where our conversation went from there as we shared our mutual grief on a level that neither of us expected when we embarked on our journey that day. No more than either of us could’ve imagined that we’d be on this unexpected and unpredictable grief journey to begin with.
I asked if she had a picture of her son on hand. “Absolutely!” she said with a proud mama’s plunge into her purse! “I brought these for my interview.” My mama’s heart grieved deeply as I beheld the handsome face that smiled back at me—incomprehensible loss.
Without waiting for her to ask, I told her I also had a picture of my son with me. It just happened to be in a book that came out of my journey. With that, I pulled out a copy of my book, The Ben Ripple that I had haphazardly shoved into my computer case at the last minute before I’d left that morning.
After sharing the pictures of our sons our conversation naturally (or supernaturally) continued. We laughed and cringed at some of the similarities and heartbreaks of our journeys. Eventually, she told me she’d like to get a copy of my book for herself. It wasn’t until a little while later, when I felt a nudge, as if to wake me out of my stupor, prompting me to abashedly offer the copy I’d shown her. Her face lit right up as she humbly accepted my offering. I apologized that it had the word “SAMPLE” written on the front cover. Further explaining that I likely improperly-signed it and, therefore, made it my display copy. She laughed and said, “It’ll just make it authentic.”
Neither of us could have prepared ourselves for what we’d see when I opened the book to re-sign it. Her son’s name! We looked at each other in amazement—tears glistening. Then, with a shaky hand, I put a heart around the name and added hers to the inscription.
When our train reached its destination we exchanged emails and warmly embraced, thankful for the time we’d shared.
Two lives. Two moms. Two losses. Two different journeys. Both in the wrong seats. But when all was said and done, not in the wrong seat at all! In fact, it couldn’t have been more right! A divine appointment. A divine intersection. Divinely intercepted by the only One who could have put two grieving moms side-by-side on the same side of the tracks.
It reminds me of a story in Luke 24:13-35. Here’s an excerpt:
Now those same days two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied… As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
As I wrap up, let me just say, make sure you pay close attention when someone you don’t recognize steps onto your path…or when you find yourself in the “wrong” seat. It just might turn into a Divine Interception!
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org