It never ceases to amaze me how many great encounters I have with people on a weekly basis. Each and every one is a blessing to me, yet sometimes it frustrates me that I just don’t have enough time to write about them all. This week I’ll just talk about two – one was for no more than 30 seconds … while the other has been developing for about 3 years.

One day this past week I was walking into a nursing home, carrying my black “pastor bag”. A woman about my age was on the front porch of the home, talking on her cell phone. I altered my course attempting to not disturb her conversation. However, she looked up, put her conversation on hold, and asked me, “Are you the medical examiner?”

I smiled – perhaps even chuckled – and said, “No, I am a pastor.” She then went on to say, “My mother just died. She was 95.” I said, “I am sorry for your loss.” Her response, “She knew Jesus, so all is well.” “Yes,” I said, “All is well with her, and you will see her again.” With that she returned to her phone conversation and I continued into the nursing home. When I left a half hour later, she was gone … but her words and the peace she displayed made my day.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1.3-4) God had comforted the 95 year-old mother in her death. She then gave that same comfort to her daughter. And the daughter passed it on to me (and, most likely, many others).

Later in the week I met with a family that I have known for about 3 years. The conversation was both fun and profitable (at least from my perspective). As I drove home, I thought of all that family had experienced over those 3 years … and how far they had come. I praised God for his work in their home, but my eye is really on their future. I believe God has great things in mind for this family, and I feel privileged to be a small part of it.

I am reminded of Paul and Barnabas in Asia Minor where “they preached the gospel … strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. … With prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14.21-23)

It often does not matter if our encounters with people are only for 30 seconds, or if they continue for 3 years or longer. God seeks to be at work in each and every one – bringing the blessings of Christ Jesus … drawing us closer to him and one another … spreading his comfort, peace and good will … using us to share “the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

I will leave you with that simple thought … and the prayer that God will not only comfort you this day, but also enable you to be his instrument of comfort and encouragement to many.

30 Seconds or 3 Years