Moments of grace

This week, I was lost in the labyrynthine New York subway system – a hick in the vast metropolis.

I survived – with the help of a clutch of very helpful New Yorkers.  It has left me thinking about the kindness of strangers and the grace of God.

I was in New York for a conference on prayer at the Brooklyn Tabernacle which, of course, is in Brooklyn, across the bridge from Manhattan.

Since I had a little time after arriving, I decided to take the train from Newark International Airport to New York Penn Station and the subway from there to my hotel in Brooklyn.

What an adventure!

I have visited New York only a handful of times in my fairly long life – and never used the subway.

Arriving in Penn Station, I looked for a subway ticket window where I could get the right ticket and good directions to my Brooklyn destination.

I had trouble finding a subway ticket office and when I did, the ticket agent didn’t know anything about my subway stop or the right line to take – and he had no subway maps.

That’s when the kindness of New Yorkers started kicking in.

A flower seller pulled out his cell phone and found the station on his subway map.  He suggested the line I should take and where to get it.

When I got on what I thought was the right line, I couldn’t find a map in the subway car showing where I was to get off.  Someone directed me to another line.

After getting on and off a couple of more lines, an old man took me to the right stop, led me upstairs in the subway station, and pointed out Atlantic Avenue where I was heading.

The next morning, I decided to take the subway to the church.

Unfortunately, the ticket machine would accept my credit card only if I had an American zip code.  My Canadian zip code wouldn’t work.

Seeing my struggles with the machine, a couple of young women asked me what was wrong.  When I explained the situation and said I didn’t have small change for the machine, one of them let me through the entrance gate with her own subway card – something I now realize cost her money.

My impression of New Yorkers has risen sky high.

Surely, this is the essence of grace – undeserved kindness.

As a believer, I am also convinced that God was arranging these encounters – probably with an indulgent smile on his face.  He is a god of grace.

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