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  • "A Musing Pastor"

Chance encounter? Nah!

We go nowhere by accident.... A good friend and colleague has been saying that for many years and I love the truth in it. Thanks Bruce!

It was just like any other day on the York county Rail Trail. I was on a long run and the trail was busy. Bicyclists, walkers, and a few runners were enjoying the flat track. In the parking lot as I prepared to run, I noticed a fellow stretching and adjusting a brace on his knee. Didn't give it much thought. He took off on his run to wherever. I stretched a little then grabbed my water bottle, set my run app, and headed south on the trail. I rarely ever do this, but this evening I saw the man way down the trail. His yellow micro-mesh shirt was easy to spot. I decided to try and catch up to him. I repeat, I rarely ever do this when I'm running. First of all, my running is slow and secondly, I am running to compete against the voice in my head that says I'm slow not to try and catch another runner.

This evening I felt good and slowly the gap between the man in the yellow shirt and me lessened. As I caught up to him I ran beside him and nonchalantly began a conversation. I was drawn to the man's easy gliding run gait even though the IT brace on his leg looked burdensome. We talked and I learned he (Bert) was working in York, he lived in Wisconsin, and was originally from Oregon! Bert, an IT specialist, loves to run and when away from home on business, always looks for good run venues! The longer we ran together the more we discovered about each other. Upon returning to the parking lot, we exchanged contact info and vowed to run together again.

I still remember the early winter mornings as we bundled up, turned our headlamps on, and started down the snow covered Rail Trail. Ah, good times!! The 5:30 AM run around the Galleria Mall was different! Our runs were places to talk about family, politics, religion, (Bert and his family attended a United Methodist Church) sports, and a host of other topics. Our friendship grew and eventually we participated in the Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon in Washington DC. Pretty heady stuff for a novice runner who isn't very fast. I had a blast and the memories of the day still linger. I got to run with our daughter Kayt that day and we really enjoyed the adventure.

(Bert, here with the red beanie)

I haven't seen Bert in quite a while. He and I still run and we encourage each other via Facebook. I know our friendship formed on a run and I wonder if I would have ever made Bert's acquaintance in another time and place. I sort of don't think so. I hold to the idea that on a particular evening at the appropriate time, two fellows prepared to run and I would suggest that God was crossing our paths for some reason.

Have you ever met somebody and a friendship formed and was bonded? Why of course. Have you ever wonder how it happened or why it happened? I believe God's design for us includes divine appointments that we sometimes label chance encounters. Our vision is a bit too narrow.

God is always at work and our involvement in what God is up to is important. We are placed in situations around people and God needs our willingness to connect and share life with them. Maybe, the reason for such encounters isn't so much for the other person as it is for our benefit. In the end result, a mutual benefit and friendship is shared and enjoyed. God is so good!

Today, if you are feeling a nudge to approach another person to start a conversation, don't question or hesitate. Do it! God is at work in your life and in theirs. Make the connection and see where God leads you. Who knows, maybe you'll both run a 1/2 marathon!

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