In this journey called life, I’ve had more than my fair share of unusual encounters. I don’t know why God has allowed these into my life. If they don’t come at every corner, they come at every other one.

Some of these encounters come in bits and pieces, much like a 1,000-piece puzzle. Almost all the pieces are the same color, size and shape, but eventually, you get them put together and are amazed at the puzzle’s beauty.

Did you know God works in your life and mine to piece together His perfect will? He gives us one piece today and another one years down the road. Sooner or later, the picture begins to come together. That’s one of the advantages of growing older. In our later years, we have more pieces of the puzzle than, as my grandmother would say, “you young whippersnappers” do.

One of my puzzle pieces came when I was attending Bible School. I had to take a class taught by Richard Land called “Christian Milieu.” At that point in my life I barely knew what “Christian” meant, let alone “Milieu.” Anyone who has ever sat in Land’s class for a semester has an inkling about what it will be like to stand before the judgment seat.

He began to teach us about the interaction between culture and Christianity. I was mesmerized as he used Francis Schaeffer’s book, How Should We Then Live? No another class so impacted my life and kick-started my thinking process. I would never have written my book, Rite of Passage Parenting if it weren’t for this class. Land gave me a piece of the puzzle.

Fast forward 19 years to another piece of the puzzle. I was boarding an overnight flight from Memphis to Amsterdam. As I settled into my seat, an elderly lady walked by and took the seat directly behind me. She had on a wide-brimmed white hat, white gloves and a classic, stunning dress, the kind you would have seen women wearing to church during the 50s. A young man, whom I guessed to be her grandson, was helping her place her luggage overhead. She smiled at me, and I smiled back. Then came all the announcements about being buckled in and oxygen masks falling out of the ceiling.

As the plane took off, I looked back, and she was sound asleep. Not long afterwards, I followed suit. When we finally landed and taxied up to the gate, we all tried to gather our belongings. I leaned over the seat to tell her how nice she looked and how I wished today’s women would learn to dress in such a regal style.

She stood up and told me, “Young man, when you get off the plane, wait for me at the head of the jetway.” She spoke with such confidence that I wondered what she could want.

After I left the plane, I stood waiting for her to come up the ramp. When she stepped into the terminal and saw me, she gave another command: “Get on your knees. God has told me to pray over you.”

I dropped to my knees. She laid a delicate hand on my shoulder and prayed one of the most powerful prayers I’ve ever heard. I didn’t even notice the other passengers walking around us, nor did I care. I was caught up in her prayer. I could tell by the way she prayed that she had spent a lifetime before the Father. The intimacy with which she addressed Him was so real. I don’t know how to describe it, but I felt her prayers connecting me with the heavenlies.

When she finished praying, she started to walk away. I stopped her and said, “Ma’am, thank you so much for your prayer. If it would be all right, may I ask your name?”

“Edith, Edith Schaeffer.”

I took a step back, almost in shock. “The Edith Schaeffer, wife of Francis Schaeffer?” She nodded to the affirmative. I told her how much her husband’s writing and teaching had changed my thinking and shaped my life.

I was honored to have the chance
to meet her. And without much ado, she walked on past me to catch another plane.

Today (March 30, 2013), I heard that at the age of 98, Edith Schaeffer went home to her heavenly Father. I feel empty. I had only one brief God-encounter with her, but it was like a shift in the wind. It set my sails in another direction, and I have done as she did and prayed over people in the most unlikely places.

Dr. Schaeffer, you touched my mind, but your wife touched my heart. A blessed homecoming to you both!