Psalm 77:14 (NKJV)
Last Friday, my friend and I met for coffee so I could return a book that I had borrowed from her. In the thirty-plus years that we’ve known each other, we’ve gone for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, but never just coffee. I suggested that we meet at a little place on the west side of town.
As we sat there sipping almond lattes and discussing the book I’d borrowed, I asked, “Have you read ‘Jesus Calling’ by Sarah Young?” My friend hadn’t, so I told her about what an amazing devotional it is. She jotted down the title.
The coffee shop sets next to the only Christian bookstore in town, a small shop that struggles to stay in business and has more than a few empty shelves. When we finished our coffee, my friend suggested that we go inside and look around.
While she browsed, I checked to see if they had any of my books. They didn’t. Then I looked for “Jesus Calling.” I didn’t find it among the dozen, or so, books on the Devotionals rack.
After a few minutes, we decided to leave. On our way out of the store an autobiography caught my friend’s eye. She decided to buy it. A chubby gentleman stood at the checkout counter. He introduced himself as Anthony, the new owner. As Anthony rang up the book, he said, “Have you heard of ‘Jesus Calling?’” He pointed to a display of Sarah Young’s books in the corner of the shop. My friend looked at me, and I knew what she thought: This is strange. Anthony continued, “The Holy Spirit led me to stock that book. I’ve sold copy after copy. It sells out every time.” (What I didn’t share with my friend or Anthony was just how connected I’ve felt lately to Sarah’s books. That’s something that I decided to keep to myself.)
The conversation with Anthony continued. I told him that I had worked as an editor at Golden Books until the company left our town and moved to New York. “Were you in the Erie Street building?” Anthony asked. Yes, my office had been there, on the third floor. That building and others in the complex have sat empty for years. The real estate company hadn’t found a buyer although the location is prime, on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.
“It’s sad,” I said, “that those buildings are still vacant and in such disrepair.”
Anthony smiled. He said, “I just bought them.” (It turns out that Anthony comes from a well-known, wealthy family in our area.) He told us about his plans for the complex: a new Christian ministry center with a residence for abused women and their children, an auditorium for concerts and worship, a chapel overlooking the lake, and picnic grounds inspired by the Fruits of the Spirit. “The first time I stood on that land, on that bluff,” Anthony said, “I looked out at the lake, and I cried. I felt the Holy Spirit moving there.” He paused. “I tell you; that’s holy ground.”
Almost thirty years ago, I also had met the Holy Spirit on that same bluff, on that holy ground. I was an agnostic then, and I had stood there questioning whether God is for real. On that cloudy spring morning, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart: “Look out at the water, and the sun shall shine upon you as I speak.” Just as He promised, the sun broke through the clouds, and God and I had a conversation. That was the day when I asked Jesus into my heart.
Now Anthony the Bookseller has met Jean the Author. Both of us are connected to the Holy Spirit through that bluff on Lake Michigan, a place that Anthony just purchased to develop for the Lord. Is this a coincidence? No. It’s a God thing—
And I don’t think He’s done with us yet.
In my first-ever blog post, I wrote about the day that I met the Holy Spirit on the bluff. You can read that post here.