I started looking around at road signs, trying to recognize where I was and He gently reminded me to trust and stay focused on Him and not on distractions. Our first stop was Trader Joe's where I immediately knew I was to buy something. Strawberries came to mind as I recalled giving strawberries to a homeless man years ago on my way home from Trader Joe's. Sure enough as I walked in God took me directly to the strawberries and I heard Him say "the organic ones - nothing but the best for those I love." As I walked back to my car with the strawberries I saw an older gentleman on his cell phone smoking a cigarette. I thought he was to be the recipient but I became nervous and unsure so I got in my car and started to leave. God redirected me to the last open parking spot before I was about to exit the lot - it happened to be right in front of the store and should have been a handicapped stall. So I parked again and walked over to the man. After uncomfortably and curiously waiting 5 minutes for him to finish his phone call, I nearly had to chase him down to talk with him. "God asked me to buy these strawberries for you and to tell you that He loves you," I relayed God's message to him. He just stared and I smiled and repeated it. He looked confused so I asked if he wanted the strawberries. "No," he paused and then replied, "well if it's personal I'll take them." He could not believe they were specifically for him and kept telling me that he had never before experienced anything like this. I reassured him, "neither have I, but they are for you because God wants you to know that he loves you." He was touched and kindly thanked me and we went on our way.
As I drove the route God directed, I saw the Taste of India restaurant and knew it was where He was asking me to stop. However, my fears began to get the best of me as I made excuses such as: not being hungry for lunch, that they were going to think it was weird, I would be uncomfortable etc (all very lame and childish). I think I was even whining though all of the dialogue was internal. So, instead I drove past the restaurant. Immediately, something inside me gently but powerfully compelled me to make a U-turn as I knew I had to go back. Then God said, “and bring them a coffee from this espresso shack,” which I had just pulled into to turn around. I didn’t know what type of coffee to order but God led that as well, a dark chocolate latte, again he wanted to give the best. He said, “that cash in your wallet (I had stopped at the bank before He beautifully hijacked my day), you’re going to spend all that and more.” The barista's smile lit up when I tipped well and shared with her that God wanted her to know that He really loves her. I did end up giving the coffee to the owner of the Indian restaurant, making sure she knew that it was from God and that He loved her. This was the message God continually gave me for people, that He loves them. For some people, He directed me to repeat it several times. :)
Next, God directed me to a 7th day Adventist church, telling me "someone in there needs to know that I love them". So I tried opening the main door but it was locked and I saw a sign posted that they were closed. Naturally, I began to walk away. "You need to knock, you need to persist in what I am asking you to do, " God told me. So, after knocking loudly and receiving no response I began to walk around the building trying other doors. A woman came around the corner to see if I needed help. I shared that God had sent me here to tell someone He loved them and I believed that it was her. Lynn began to cry as she shared her story of struggle. She had just that day, cried out to God, asking Him to show up and help her. We both confirmed that this was her answer to prayer. We talked and prayed for each other. The things Lynn prayed for and spoke over me were the same things God had been telling me through several unrelated people and circumstances over the course of that week! We were both very encouraged.
The day continued like this and I began to see God’s heart. I saw people through His eyes and His passionate and unrelenting love for them. He told me that people everywhere need to see and know His love for them and I am His messenger, and not just today. I saw how He was breaking down my barriers and releasing me from my fears (especially of what people think of me!). He showed me how quick I was to find an excuse when I was uncomfortable and trained me in both hearing His voice and immediate obedience. I was surely walking by and in His spirit for nearly 6 hours that day.
At one point while sitting on a log next to the waves of Puget Sound in Edmonds, a small town God had brought me to, I had a vision. It was of an older man walking along a train track and something was wrong with his health. My brain immediately kicked into gear and I thought maybe he’s going to have a heart attack. I thought about me having to do CPR and I jumped up and started to move quickly, looking for the man. I saw in my mind God smiling. He asked me to sit back down and pray, reminding me that He will do it, not me. As I prayed, I noticed the people on the logs around me. God told me that I carried His presence and I was there for protection right now. About 10 minutes later, I was able to get up and walk down the beach and after passing some others enjoying the sunshine, I looked up into the distance where I saw some train tracks above the waves. Sure enough, there was an older looking gentleman in a blue coat walking right along the tracks on the cliff above the water, just as in my vision. Again, I sped up thinking He was going to get hit by a train as one had just come by. Again, God slowed me down and even had me stop about 20 yards short of the man to pray and wait on His timing. When I approached the man I realized he didn’t speak English but I found out he spoke Spanish. Mauro is an uneducated man from Mexico, who grew up working manual labor so that his little brothers could eat. He was in Washington for treatment for an aggressive cancer, the operation for which doctors thought may paralyze him. He was very concerned this could change his ability to work and provide for his family. I was able to pray with and encourage him. God gave me the words for Mauro, "Do not be afraid about walking or working; I will take care of you." He was very touched that God would send someone who spoke Spanish, as he had been longing to speak in his own language without an interpreter.
Earlier in the day, God had told me I would be buying a toy. So logically I had begun to look for a toy store. He gently reminded me again not to worry, that He would direct me in His timing. Sure enough hours later, while I was walking in downtown Edmonds I saw the toy store. Less than a block before, God had directed my eyes across the street to a nail salon and said that I would be going in there. “But not before buying that toy,” I had heard. In the toy store, all other toys faded as I let Him guide me directly to the giraffe on the top shelf. I didn’t have to search. I didn't notice other toys. My eyes landed right on it. At the counter when a woman asked if she could gift wrap it for a boy or girl, I immediately knew and replied, “boy.” Upon walking into the nail salon I was thinking it may be odd to just hand someone a gift. I also was confused because upon seeing the 2 employees there, I did not get the sense that it was for either of them. So I awkwardly asked for a price list of their services. I felt like I was supposed to stay for a while so I was about to ask for a manicure (the cheapest service, and one which I did not want :)). However, God redirected me to a pedicure with lavender, costing more than twice as much but I was excited to watch Him work!
After a few minutes of sitting in a comfortable chair, Nhung came in and I knew she was the one I was there for. As she began the pedicure God told me not to converse but to simply pray silently for her. She looked discouraged and weary. I tried asking some friendly questions about her family but she shut down. God reminded me of what He had asked of me. After about 20 minutes of silence, I knew it was alright to talk and we had a great conversation. Her countenance completely brightened. In my curiosity, I had found out that she had no children (did not want to be married) and had no nieces nor nephews. I was trying to figure out who the toy giraffe would be for! But God knew, so I just continued to enjoy our time together. Before leaving I handed her the toy explaining that it may seem a little odd, but that God had clearly directed me to this toy and told me to give it to her. He had also told me how much to tip and had given me these exact words for her, "No matter how long the road is or how difficult, know that God is with you and He loves you." She was glowing. I walked out admiring my sparkling pink toenails while God reminded me, "It is me that makes your feet beautiful and sends you. How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news (Isaiah 52:7)."
The day (and days to come) was filled with many other God-encounters and personal words of encouragement and understanding as God revealed His heart to and through me. Also, I was blessed with summer weather for the next few days in Washington. So, as I wore sandals I could look down at the 10 little pink reminders of God's love and faithfulness to me and the world. As I spent the next two days connecting with old friends from school and sharing this amazing story, I began to realize the reason that I had a plane ticket that left later in the week, instead of right after the conference as I had originally hoped for. It was not because of the cheaper price. God had orchestrated each day of my time in Washington to bless others and myself. I had the privilege of spending this intimate time with Him, hearing His clear voice, confidently sharing His love and encouraging others through this story for years to come.
I pray that this is an encouragement to you today, of God's love for you and His desire to dialogue with you, revealing His heart to and through you.