He spoke to me pleasantly, but called me by the wrong name. He asked how I had been doing, how my health was. I stood up and shook his hand, smiled pleasantly, told him it was good to see him and told him I was well. Then I inquired as to his welfare, and he assured me he was well also.
The lady standing just behind and a bit to the side of him smiled at the exchange.
He looked to be in his 80s; he was using a walker, and I would be willing to bet he was in the military in his youth. They just have a way of carrying themselves, no matter how old they get.
It may have been Alzheimer's or some other something that is robbing him of his memories and replacing them with things that are not real, but whatever it is, it convinced him, for a moment, that I was someone else.
As far as I know, I have never met the man in my life. The exchange did not take place in my hometown; it took place hundreds of miles away in the hotel lobby of a lovely mountain town where I was preaching a revival meeting. The fact that I do not know him was utterly irrelevant; at that moment, he needed me to assure him that my health was well, and to let him know that I cared about his.
As he tottered away, I prayed for him, my new friend whom I do not know.
Some very dear friends of mine are now afflicted with Alzheimer's and other things that are making them forget. Some dear church members that I pastored for nearly two decades spent their last few months asking me who I was each time I saw them, then telling me stories they had told me dozens of times before.
When you meet such a person and they greet you warmly, count it as a sacred trust from the God of heaven. He trusts you enough to send a precious soul across your path so you can give some pleasure with a warm smile and an inquiry of their welfare. You may have to speak in generalities, but speak. You may be nervous, but smile.
Matthew 25:40 says, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
When speaking to someone who thinks you are someone else and needs an encouraging word from you, you may as well be speaking to Jesus himself.
I hope to meet my new friend again one day under much better circumstances. Perhaps the next time we meet it will be on the corner of Glory Lane and Hallelujah Avenue in downtown heaven. If we do, I will know his name; he will know mine; the walker will be gone; all minds and hearts will be clear, and we can spend some time rejoicing in what we now both remember, including a divinely appointed meeting in the hotel lobby of a lovely mountain town.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., and the author of several books that are available at wordofhismouth.com. Contact him at [email protected]