Author Chris Tiegreen says that God writes stories with our lives to teach us deep truths. Here’s how I learned a big one.
In March 2007, an author I was reading suggested we thank the person who “walked across the room” and first invited us to faith.
I knew I needed to contact Dave Sheldon, who along with my my roommate Jackie invited me to a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting at Ohio State in January 1972. (I wasn’t really interested, but said I’d go because I didn’t want Jackie to look “holier” than me!)
At that meeting I surrendered leadership of my life to Jesus and have never looked back.
Although Dave and I were friends in college, I’d never really thanked him for taking that step of inviting me to a deeper faith.
So I prayed God would help me find Dave. The last I knew he was a pastor in Columbus, so I searched online through the OSU alumni directory, phone books and church websites. I even called a few numbers, but couldn’t find him. After a couple of frustrating hours, I gave up.
Okay, God, I thought You would want me to find Dave Sheldon. But if You want me to wait until Heaven to thank him, then I guess that’s what I’ll have to do.
That Christmas when my husband, our eldest daughter Danielle and I visited my parents in Ashland, Ohio (1¼ hours north of Columbus), we wanted to see a particular movie and asked Danielle to research the day, time and place options. She chose an old theater downtown, but discovered the movie would be shown upstairs with no elevator for my Mom.
So, Danielle picked a theater in Mansfield, about 30 minutes away. We went out to lunch first and afterwards I wanted to go back to our motel and get my buttered popcorn jellybeans for the movie, but Ralph said there wasn’t time. (Amazingly, I didn’t argue.)
We drove to Mansfield arriving 40 minutes early! (Shockingly, I didn’t whine.) We bought our tickets and discussed how to kill time before the movie. Mom needed something at Walmart and the GPS indicated one nearby, but after calculating our arrival time, I decided we didn’t have time. Instead I suggested we head into Bed, Bath & Beyond next to the theater.
With Mom on my arm, we walked very slowly up the store aisle looking at our youngest daughter Lindsey’s wedding registry dishes. After about 25 minutes, I started to head back down the same aisle because it was the fastest way out, but a little voice in my head said, “Why don’t you relax and take her down another aisle to enjoy looking at some different things?”
So we walked to the far side of the store and down the last aisle. Near the end, Mom stopped at a big display of Ohio State paraphernalia.
A man standing near all the scarlet-and-gray looked up and said: “Lynn?”
I answered “Yes” and he looked quizzically at my face. “You are Lynn, aren’t you?”
Again I said, “Yes” while thinking: I’ve finally been recognized by a complete stranger who read one of my books—this is so cool!
The man grinned and said: “Dave Sheldon.”
I was speechless as I hugged him for dear life. I managed to blurt out that I had prayed to find and thank him for inviting me to the meeting which changed my life. I learned he lived in Mansfield and was in the store killing time waiting for his family! (I still marvel that Dave recognized me after 34 years–undoubtedly a perk of never changing my hairstyle!)
That night I put my head on my pillow and my smile refused to disappear as I pondered the fact God somehow managed to put Dave Sheldon and me in the same state, the same city, the same store, the same aisle, at the same display at the exact same moment in time.
My prayer was not answered as quickly or in the way I originally had hoped. Instead, God wrote a deep truth on my heart:
Excerpted from When God & Grief Meet ©Lynn Eib 2009
Open in your browser to hear the song “In Jesus Name (God of Possible)” sung by Don Moen.