I cannot help but notice her as I approach my gate seating area at Houston Intercontinental Airport. Medium build, cropped brown hair, loose fitting slacks and shirt, and only one arm. We are both an hour early for this flight to Lubbock, where I am to speak six times over the weekend about God’s guidance I am carrying my Bible and notes in a cloth tote bag that says “State Bar of Texas.” The plane is late. We have another hour to wait.
As I take a stretch break, I word a silent prayer. “If there is anyone here, Lord, with whom you wish me to connect, please call it to my attention.” I walk to the window and watch the planes taxi on the runway. Just then she rises and comes over to me. “Are you a lawyer?” she asks, looking at my bag. “Yes,” I say, “for a living. But I am on my way to Lubbock to talk about God’s leading in our lives.”
“Really?” she says. “I am going to Lubbock to witness to some friends whom the Lord has put on my heart. I hope they will be open to the gospel. God sent you to me. I was just praying for God to provide me some encouragement to go on.”
As we chat, there and later on the plane to Lubbock, I learn that Shawn had lost her arm to cancer, but she feels blessed to be alive. She now does research in the cancer hospital for the same doctor who had treated her. There she shares God’s love with other patients who face the loss of limbs. Although her doctor is an atheist, he sometimes sends her to pray for other patients whom he knows need encouragement.
Shawn always wanted to be a missionary, she tells me She wonders if she is out of God’s will because she is not. I assure her that she IS a “missionary” — exactly where God has put her — with an authority and credibility which only her unique experience could possibly provide. And I tell her how God used her to answer my prayer, providing me with a living illustration of one who turned great adversity to God’s service, and who faithfully glorifies God in the place he has planted her.
No human being in that airport could hear the silent prayers Shawn and I had offered up at almost the same time. But God, who knows the hearts, heard us both, and he provided just what each of us needed at that very moment.