“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27 (NKJV)

I have a favorite coffee shop. For years in the town we used to live in, I was a frequent customer. Still am, as often as I can be, on the weekend. It is located in a charming old farmhouse. It is one of my most cherished places to sit quietly and read the Bible before the start of a busy day. When I lived just around the corner, I often went there in the early morning and got lost in the pages of my Bible amid the din of conversations and the smell of roasting coffee. I liked to do my reading before I went to my part-time job at the local church that I worked at for a number of years.

One early morning, cup in one hand and my Bible in the other, I was headed to the back of the coffee shop to find an out-of-the-way nook to read in. I was intent on self-isolation that particular morning. As I proceeded out of the front room, with its clamor, through the middle room and toward the back, I had an unusual impression: “Go sit in the green chair.” That seemed odd, as I wasn’t thinking anything of the kind. I had already passed a set of green chairs in the noisy front room and had no intention of sitting there. Again, the same impression came a second and a third time: “Go sit in the green chair,” a small voice seemed to speak into my heart. Now, I’ve walked with the Lord long enough and studied his word carefully enough to know and have experienced the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. I made a quick mental assessment of the situation and realized it was unlikely to be my idea, since nothing could be further from my own intention.

Obediently but reluctantly, I turned around and headed back toward the crowded front room, seating myself in one of the two comfortable green chairs. I happily noted that the other chair was unoccupied. I then dismissed the notion of the Holy Spirit’s leading, attributing it to myself, and hunkered down to read.

I was happily engrossed in personal Bible study when a man came up and sat down in the other green chair. I turned myself slightly away, hoping to avoid even a polite hello to this stranger, wanting to protect “my” time. Also, I never engage in conversation with an unknown man, based upon my personal boundaries. It wasn’t long before the man interrupted me with an unusual declarative statement that caught me off guard. Instead of a polite small-talk greeting, the stranger declared, “You’re just like my wife!” “What?” I thought to myself. He ignored my obvious body language and went on, “She’s always reading the Bible too.” It began to dawn on me that this was the person to whom God had intended me to speak. “So that’s why I was supposed to go and sit in the green chair,” I thought to myself. Resigning myself to the loss of what I perceived to be “my” time, I patiently listened and answered while this total stranger proceeded to fire Bible questions at me, one after the other. It turned out to be a rather lively and engaging conversation, bordering on a debate. I ended up suggesting that perhaps he would enjoy reading the Bible as much as his wife did.

I became very certain during the course of our exchange that, in response to his wife’s prayers for her unbelieving husband, I had been directed to the green chair before the man arrived. Although I thought the time I had dedicated to God that day was for my personal study, it turned out that God wanted my time for his purpose. God’s purpose for me was to answer the questions of one man who was seeking answers about faith. His wife had obviously been praying for him, and so there I was in the right place at the right time to answer his questions. I never saw him again, but trust that God used me to help him along in his journey toward faith.

What a delightful reminder to know that God is busy answering prayer, and that I got to play a part in this one!

*This essay is an excerpt from Janet D. Perrin’s book, God Speaks: The Guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts & Today. To learn more about the book, go to amazon.com/author/janetdperrin