One time I was at a Starbucks coffee shop in the South End of Ottawa, Canada. I have a fondness for reading books and drinking coffee and so in those days I often found myself at the Chapters bookstore where a Starbucks was attached. For my American friends, Chapters is much like an Indigo bookstore.
I was actually on my way to work this day. I had been in training for my job all morning and had to work that evening. This was my only window to myself that day. By the end of that long day I would be away from home for about 16 hours. So this window at Starbucks was the only time of day that I would be alone.
Anyway, as I was at this Starbucks, I noticed a woman in the line next to me. She looked rather anxious and panicky. She kept standing closer to me and I kept moving a little further away. She reminded me of a close friend that I had before I knew the Lord when I worked for the Auditor General of Canada named Francois. He was from Montreal. He and I would go outside for cigarettes during our break. Francois was one of them ‘close talkers’ who always stepped into your personal space. I would back up and he would come close again. By the time we finished a cigarette it was like we had danced with each other all over that street.
Anyway this woman was exhibiting the same traits as Francois. She would come near and I would move away. She would come near again and I would move away again. By the time I got my coffee and sandwich I was very happy because I felt that I had escaped her presence. But the next thing you know, the same waltz started all over again when we got to the condiments stand where the cream and sugar are located. Again she would come too near and I would move away. She would come near again and I would move away again. So finally I got everything prepared the way I wanted with my coffee and I saw that the big leather chair was open at the front of the store.
I started to move quickly because it isn’t too often that you get that big cozy chair. But then I look over my shoulder and I see that same woman was moving quickly in the same direction, and just in case she was thinking about that chair I began to move very fast like a canoeist paddling a strong Canadian river rapid. I weaved in and out of the people in the store, moving chairs out of the way toward my desired goal. As I got close to the chair I lunged over the top of it and landed squarely into its padded cushion. That woman was just as persistent though. She paddled right behind me weaved her way through the same two or three people and pushed chairs out of her way. She plummeted into the seat just opposite of me and did it all with the politest of vigour.
I settled into my seat and opened my sandwich and began to eat – a very nice sandwich with plenty of meat and veggies. As I was sitting there a little child walked up to the side of my chair and looked me straight in the eyes. He was the cutest thing. It struck me that this young man had no shame at all and that he was completely filled with innocence. I looked at his father and the woman in the chair beside me and I said, “Oh to be like a little child and to have the innocence to be able to look each other straight in the eyes.” The woman across from me nodded in agreement, and said that would indeed be wonderful, and then she mentioned that she was having such a terrible day. She sighed deeply as her eyes peered into mine hinting that she would like to have a conversation with me. At this point, I rightly discerned that this woman and I were divinely appointed to have a conversation about God, so I said to God, “I will talk to her but I am finishing this sandwich first!”
For the next five minutes I sat silently eating my sandwich. I realise that for some of you that this may seem a little cold hearted, but I was very confident that the conversation would continue once I ate my sandwich. After I was finished I said, “Ok God I am ready to go.” I looked over at the woman who for the last five minutes kept looking toward me with these great big puppy dog eyes. So I made some idle chit-chat and the next thing you know we were in the middle of a conversation. It doesn’t matter how a conversation begins because God always has a way of moving that conversation toward him. Just think of the story of the woman at the well. Jesus started it by asking her for a drink and before you know, it she is jumping out of her skin in excitement and leading many people to the Lord.
After a few minutes I mention to her that I am a minister. She tells me how she also was a Christian belonging to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. When she found out that I was a Charismatic she was thrown off a little. She asked if our church spoke in tongues. I said, “Yeah we do a bit.” Little did I know what awaited her and I in the near future. I then began to prophesy over her. I said that she had gone through some hard times and was living currently under a lot of heaviness, and that she was a little depressed and anxious. She then began to tell me how she had lived a number of years in a dark state and that she had been diagnosed with a depression and anxiety disorder. She found it difficult to snap out of darkness.
She mentioned how she and her husband were financially sound, but that she did not have a passion for life anymore. I told her that God was going to change her life, and that he had a plan for her. I mentioned how we had a healing service at our church on Friday evenings that might interest her. I wrote down my email address and the directions to the church. She had gotten a lot of peace from the conversation, but truthfully I thought that would be the last I’d see of her. On Friday evening I got to the healing service in Kinburn five minutes before the service. I was much later than usual. There was a car in the parking lot that I didn’t recognize. When I got out of my car the woman from Starbucks started to run toward me. I was with my mother at the time and I tried to quickly explain to her who this woman was running toward us.
You have to understand that while this woman was sensing the Holy Spirit she wasn’t what you would call a fired-up-born-againspirit- filled believer. She had sensed the Holy Spirit at the coffee shop and was hungry for more. She could not have come to a more charismatic tongue filled service. That evening Pastor Mark had given the service over to another gentleman who had decided that for the entire evening – 3 hours – we were going to pray in tongues. So as we walked through the door of the church we were met with a flood of voices praying in tongues pouring out of the sanctuary like waves upon a shore. I thought to myself, “Oh no, of all evenings for this Seventh Day Adventist lady to show up.” She looked at me with some alarm as I probably did her. She sat with my mother who tried to console her, but I felt prompted to walk to the front of the church to pray. I joined in the orchestra of tongues in that place as I began to pray out in the spirit. Now and then I would open one eye to peer back at the woman who looked as if there were a barrel of anxiety all over her.
After a few minutes of this she jumped up and began to run toward the back door. The Lord specifically told me to turn my back to her as she ran out of the church. This seemed like a strange thing for God to say but I obeyed and did what I heard to do. Before long she walked back into the church and sat down with my mother again. But after about ten more minutes she jumped up and ran toward the back door again. This time I went out after her as did my mother and Pastor Mark. We intercepted her in the lobby of the little church. She began to tell me that she had to go because there was something very important that she had to do. This was sort of funny to hear because she had driven for almost an hour to get to the service and now something very important had come up after only 20 minutes that she needed to leave for. The people in the sanctuary on hearing what was occurring in the lobby began to raise the volume on their praying in tongues. It was coming out of the doors in bellows now. More people flowed into the church and passed us as we were with this woman. They would open the door to go into the sanctuary and as they did a roar of tongues came pouring through the open doors. I kept thinking “of all nights, dear Lord, of all nights.”
Pastor Mark, my mother and I began to minister to the woman. We talked with her for about 20 minutes, and then we asked her if we could pray with her. She said that we could, and then she fell to the floor on her knees, and raised her hands toward heaven and prayed a prayer for God to come close to her life again. Tears streamed from her eyes as she prayed that prayer. It was such a holy moment to be a part of. The presence of the Holy Spirit was intense in this room. After the prayer she got up off of the floor and left the church. I have never seen her again, nor do I remember her name. But that dear woman is a real treasure to me. I will not forget her and I hope to meet her again one day, if not here on earth, then certainly on eternity’s shores.
God’s voice can be heard for others in many ways. In the example above I understood that God had something to say to this woman simply because he placed her in close proximity to me and opened a door for communication. One of the assumptions that I live under is that God brings people near me to be ministered too. When you live with this way then every new encounter becomes a potential God encounter.
Psalm 31:15 says, “My times are in your hands.” Every moment becomes a God moment. When you live like this every new person becomes someone that God has brought your way to hear about him – somebody to be delivered, healed, prophesied into and set free. Because I live this way I look at each new person as a puzzle to be unlocked for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some puzzles are more difficult than others, but they all have a solution.
This is an excerpt from Darren’s book Fire Script: A Story of a Prophetic and Supernatural Life. (Published by Good News Fellowship Ministries, 2013). If you would like an e-copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is dedicated to the prophetic writings of Darren Canning