I don’t really know how to describe the ways God moves in my life. Many times, it happens through the Scriptures, sometimes through other people and at other times through circumstances and situations. There are also times I get impressions—at least, that’s the best way I can describe it.
I really wish I could find a better word than “impressions,” but it’s as close as I can get. Allow me to give you an example. One day I was sitting in my office and out of nowhere, an old friend I hadn’t seen or thought of in a long time came to mind. The longer I sat, the more I thought about him. I couldn’t shake it, so I picked up the telephone and called him.
Being my cheerful self, I asked, “How are you doing?” but was greeted by silence. I heard sobbing and, then, through his tears, my friend said, “My wife just walked out of my office a few minutes ago after asking me for a divorce.”
I spent the next hour listening and praying with my hurting friend. I don’t think it was an accident that God laid him on my heart at the time he needed me. Similar things have happened on many occasions, where God has put something or someone on my heart, and I was there at the right time and the right place.
A week ago, I had another one of those impressions. I flew into Atlanta and had a five-hour layover until my next flight. For a person who travels as much as I do, layovers are a natural part of life. Through the years, I have developed a strategy to deal with them.
1. Never sit down, but walk as much as I can until my next flight.
2. Use the restroom before getting on the plane. Do you know the difference between an airplane restroom and an outhouse? I can’t think of one, either.
3. Make sure my water bottle is filled and I have a snack ready. Once, my flight was detained on a runway for more than six hours. They ran out of water and had nothing to eat. I don’t ever want to be caught in that situation again.
4. Make sure all of my electronics are charged before boarding the plane. I often end up calling to find another flight because of a late arrival to a gate.
5. Text my wife when I land and before I leave so she knows what’s going on.
As I was contemplating my five-hour layover, I looked up at the monitor to see where my next gate was located and if the departure was still scheduled to be on time. I noticed a flight preparing to leave for Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I got the impression to go to its departure gate and pray for the salvation of that country and for the people boarding the plane. I stood at the gate, small suitcase in hand, watching passengers board the plane one by one. I prayed for mothers, children and businessmen as they passed before me. Then my heart began to pour out not only for that country, but also for the entire Middle East, that these nations will find the King of kings who can bring peace to their region.
As the last person boarded, I started back to my gate when I passed by a group leaving for Quito, Ecuador. Again, I got the impression to pray for those people and the salvation of their country. I began to pray for the Lord of the harvest to bring forth workers. For the next five hours, the Lord led me from one gate to another, praying for Belgium, the headquarters for the European Union; Panama City, Panama and my friends taking the Gospel to indigenous people groups there; London; Amsterdam; Hong Kong; and Paris. God moved my heart back to the time I was ministering in each of these places. Even though I haven’t been to some of them in years, they were near to my heart as I prayed for each one.
I looked down at my watch and was surprised to find that my plane was leaving in 30 minutes. The time had flown by, and I had just prayed around the world without leaving Atlanta.
The next time you and your family are in an airport and walk by an international departure gate, would you stop and pray for the Lord of the harvest to be known in that country? He may give you or your children the impression to invest your lives there. Besides, not only does “gate praying” enlarge your desire for the nations, but it also helps put miles on your pedometer. And both are good for your heart.