The Union College (KY) Homecoming weekend turned out to be only one day, not a whole weekend, this year because of COVID concerns. However, Evelyn and I stretched it out to a five-day occasion during which we not only caught most of the annual football game, but, more so, got to spend time with several college classmates and friends.
Our plan was to return home by Sunday evening (the 31st). However, we left late Sunday afternoon from Junction City, KY, after enjoying a delicious homemade lasagna lunch with my college roommate and his wife, and a mutual friend who came from California to be with us. This set us back considerably time-wise, as we had a ten-hour drive to Delaware, and that was if we drove straight through with no stops for gas, rest room visits, or meals.
With that in mind, we decided to add one more night to our time away and found the Sleep Inn in Mink Shoals, WV. It turned out to be a most satisfactory decision, as the Inn was very comfortable and – what’s more – was located next to Harding’s Family Restaurant where Evelyn and I polished off our scrumptious evening meals.
The next morning I brought the car to the front entrance of the motel to pick up Evelyn and her service dog, Kianna. A fellow in his early 60’s was strolling around the parking lot, so I nodded a “hello” to him, and he responded. He remarked about the nice fall weather we were having that morning, and I agreed. Then he walked over to me and asked about the cap I was wearing (it was one of the ones I bought when Evelyn and I took our “127 Yard Sale” vacation). “What does that say?” he wanted to know, so I took it off and showed him the design: three crosses embossed in silver thread and three in blue with the saying, “Unleash the faith – spread it around” on the visor. Jesus’ name appears under each of the two crosses along with the word “eternity.”
The fellow’s name, I soon learned, was Eddie. He said that the message on the cap was just what he needed that morning. I commented that there are no accidental moments, and that I felt God had provided that opportunity for us to speak to each other briefly. We exchanged a couple of other pleasantries, and I got in the car. Eddie had started to walk farther down the parking lot when he turned around and motioned for me to stop.
He said, “God laid it on my heart to come back and ask you something. I didn’t really want to bother you anymore, but God kept telling me to come back. I’m going through a difficult time right now. I just lost my daughter, 47 years old, last week, and it looks like it was suicide. I was just wondering if you could keep us in your prayers.”
Wow. Here was somebody who didn’t even know me ten minutes earlier, sharing such a deeply personal, painful experience with me. I said, “I certainly will. In fact, why don’t we pray now?” and as I sat in the car, I offered a brief prayer for consolation for Eddie and his family. He thanked me, and that was that.
As I pondered the scenario, I realized that I made the decision to wear that cap after I decided not to wear my first choice, a more “dressy” cap. It turned out that the cap was the catalyst for bringing Eddie and me to the moment where he felt comfortable sharing his loss and pain, and gave me the opportunity to pray with someone whom I knew only as a brother in Christ. It struck me how the most insignificant decisions can yield the most significant results.
We may never know the impact that a piece of clothing or jewelry, or a timely word spoken in caring, might have on someone else.