The conference had ended, and we were hungry.
On our way to lunch, we got stuck in traffic, so while we waited, we said a prayer about our travel plans home from Nashville. We knew the enemy would stalk us and try to steal our joy as we each returned to our holy callings and responsibilities. Little did we know, that pause for prayer would bring us a blessing and a friend in the form of a Vietnam Vet.
We decided to gather at the Cracker Barrel, since we don’t have one in Alaska. Our waitress was a sweet young lady who had recently adopted her nephew. As she settled us at the table and collected orders, an older gentleman came in, and we couldn’t help but notice his Veteran shirt and hat. Our waitress hugged him, and we were each moved by their tender interactions.
She seated him at a table beside ours. Small talk turned into stories and an invitation to sit with us. He seemed just as fascinated by us as we were with him. He mentioned his 30 years of military service, and that he had spent some time at the base in Kodiak.
While we quietly suggested to each other that we honor him by paying for his lunch, he informed us in a gentlemanly manner that he wanted to treat all of us instead. Before we could insist, he instructed the waitress to bring him our bill. After a little bickering over the fact that he didn’t have to buy his meal today, she finally agreed to allow him to cover the cost of our meal so he could be a blessing to a group of ministry girls from Alaska.
Over the meal, we heard stories about his growing up in the cotton fields of Arkansas and hard decisions he had to make while in the service. He shared his passion for his travels and cultural experiences, and the different things that bring him joy. What started as a chance encounter became a blessing for nine people as we shared lunch with a stranger.
An hour later when we each gave him a hug goodbye, he said this was the best Veteran’s Day he’d had in many years!
Today we learned we must never underestimate the power of a divine appointment.