By Holly Culhane
Have you ever noticed how our Good Shepherd shows up at times we least expect? He never sleeps. He’s never weary. And He’s always working, stirring hearts, orchestrating moments – if we watch for them – where His hand is moving and His presence is clear.
Recently, my husband and I were privileged to cruise the western coast of Central America, through the Panama Canal, and alongside the northern coastline of South America. Passing Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas, through one night of gale-force winds, and docking in Florida, we expected our time to be one of much-needed relaxation and enjoyment of each other, spending time reading, walking the decks, meeting new people, and taking each moment as it comes. No plan. No schedule.
What we did not expect was what would happen on the dock in Costa Rica.
At the end of a typical day ashore, we headed back to the boat. Just as we passed through security at the land end of the dock, we noticed a woman we’d met earlier in our trip not far behind us. Pausing to allow us to walk the rest of the way together, we motioned for the passenger tram to move on without us.
As she came closer, we shouted a, “Hi, Shelly! How was your day?” her way. She greeted us with her trademark genuine smile, and said, “Oh, Doug and Holly, I would love to introduce you to my new friend.” Within moments, we’d met John.
Niceties and the typical passenger-to-passenger questions were exchanged: How was your day ashore? Are you enjoying your trip? Do you cruise often? And, of course, the expected: Where are you from?
In moments, we realized there may be a connection with John we could not have predicted. A sweet and pleasant moment between believers of Jesus, followers of the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd. Then, a bonus. Not only were we kindred spirits, brothers and sisters in Christ, but we had mutual friends. The gifted daughter of a couple whom we love and treasure, and a woman who deeply appreciates the shepherd leadership message and with whom we connect with often praying together for each other and our country.
It was a sweet, unforeseen moment of encouragement, a reminder of how the Great Orchestrator brings His sheep together at the most unexpected times in the most unanticipated ways, for His purpose and His glory. I felt like the Father, Himself, had reached down and whispered, “Turn around. Shelly’s behind you. Don’t hurry ahead. Wait here. I have a surprise for you.”
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.
Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
I’m not sure all that Paul had in mind in this prayer for the believers in Ephesus, but I know that in this moment – on a dock in Costa Rica – his prayer perfectly described what the experience did for me. This sheep felt the glorious, unlimited resources of the Father empower me with a remarkable inner strength and confidence for whatever is ahead. It deepened my roots in His strength, giving me the power needed to understand just a bit of how much He loves me, knows who I am – wherever I am – and that I will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes only from Him. The life and power needed to shepherd well the sheep He places in my path.
May you see the Father work in your life today. Watch for it. He loves you that much.