The Basket

by Audrey on May 17th, 2014

I never knew when I made a quick decision to bring the basket home with me . . .
I had spoken at a women's retreat in New England and the women were so gracious to give this basket to me filled - with all kinds of wonderful things.

A card, some specialty pralines and chocolates, a little stuffed bear, a Yankee candle, and soap.

When I was packing,  I took all the items out of the basket and put them in my suitcase.  I was hoping to wedge the basket in as well.

But it was awkward.  I tried to maneuver it, I rearranged . . . but I finally realized it was no use.  

The basket would be crushed - just no room.  I put in on the desk, thinking I would leave it with a note for the housekeeper.
But as I was heading toward the door, I looked back and thought about my grandchildren.  I thought about all the crafts I do with them and all the pecans that we pick up together in the fall and all the nature walks and wild crazy things.  I use baskets!  Baskets can make clutter disappear.   So I made a quick decision - I would bring the basket home.  Just carry it with me on the airplane.

When the shuttle-man came to pick me up from the hotel, the first thing he noticed was the basket. He commented, "That's a nice little basket. Left over from Easter?"

I smiled.  Well, no, I told him.

As he lifted my suitcase into the back of the shuttle, he added, "Oh, I guess you just like it."

Yes, I guess I just do.
Shuttle drivers are ready for conversation so he followed up with another question, "Where'd you get it? Must be special for you to carry it on your trip."

I told him that it was given to me by a group of women at a retreat.  I told him how it was filled with things but all those things were now in my suitcase (besides the chocolates and pralines - yes, I ate them) and he finished my story, “And you just couldn’t get the basket in and you didn’t want to leave it.”
Yes. The next question, "What kind of retreat was it?”

And so I told him.  I told him about how I taught the Bible to a group of women and then I began to ask him about his faith. He shared a little bit about his upbringing and how he had been at his church all day “yesterday,” so I asked him what he believed about Christ.  I listened, then I assured him that salvation was because of the blood of Christ and not the works we do.  "The Bible teaches we can't earn our way to heaven."  

We pulled up to the curb and as he got my bag from the back, he said, “I'm so glad I had the chance to meet you today - you have a nice flight.”
I checked in my bag, then walked through security carrying the basket. The TSA agent commented, “Are you traveling with a child today? I see you have an Easter basket.” 

I said, “No, not today.” 
“So you’re traveling alone?” 
I smiled.  “Actually, I’m not alone. God is traveling with me.”  

I know what you might be thinking.  Kind of weird to say that - but those words just kind of tumbled out.  See,  I'm actually a big baby and so I remind myself often that I'm never alone - God is always with me.  In fact, back at the retreat, one of the women had asked me if it was hard for me to travel alone - to a place I've never been and to be with women I've never met.  And yes, it is.  At least for me.  Because I am a baby.  A big one.

So, after I made my weird comment to the TSA agent, she looked me right in the eye and thanked me for reminding her that she is not alone.

Then she added, “Best words I've heard all day.  You made my day! You really did.”  I realized it wasn't a weird comment.  It was a refreshing one.

As I boarded the first flight of the day, the flight attendant said "Nice basket. Left over from Easter?"
I had to keep moving toward my seat, so I just turned to her, smiled and told her it was a gift. When I got to my seat I put the basket in the overhead bin and kind of forgot about it.

As I was standing in the line waiting to board my next flight, there were two women who were close in line to me.
One was quite a bit older than I and she said  "Nice basket. Left over from Easter?" And she kind of laughed.  I did too as I remembered the shuttle-man.
The basket. Part of my life now.   
"No, it was a gift," I was getting used to this.
She asked some follow-up questions and I began to tell her the same things I told shuttle-man.
At this point the other woman who was next to me asked, "What kind of retreat? Were you the speaker?"
I said yes, I was and it was women's retreat where I taught the Bible.
She followed up, “What did you teach?”
We were now moving down the jetway, which was very crowded, but we continued in our conversation as she asked questions. 
I told her I taught three sessions and the first two were from the book Colossians, chapter 2 - the first 12 verses.
She then asked me about Colossians - where was that in the Bible?  She was familiar with the Old Testament and some with the New Testament but she didn't know Colossians. What’s in Colossians?  What did you teach?

I told her the purpose of the book, why the Apostle Paul had written it, and shared with her a little bit of what I had taught in the first two sessions.
Then she said, "That's a lot of theological stuff.  What did you do in the last session?" 
Wow again.

I couldn't believe she was asking me these types of questions though I shouldn't have been.  I had prayed in the morning that God would give me an opportunity to talk about Him to someone I might meet in the airport today.  Imagine Him answering my prayer.

I had hoped to talk about Him with the young couple I sat next to on the first flight - but the wife got sick and was throwing up the entire flight ... 
But now, I had a woman pulling God out of me - I didn't have to start the conversation - the basket made it so easy.  

I  shared the hope of the gospel and why Christ came and what His death and resurrection mean and how He urges in that particular letter for Christians to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel and how  believers are to apply that "theological stuff" in our lives.
As I kept talking,  I realized that those around us stopped talking.  They were listening. 
Then, as she continued to ask and as I continued to answer - she asked a question that led to our discussing hostility toward Christianity.
And before either my new friend or I could finish another sentence, the older woman who had originally asked me about the basket, jumped in and blurted out, "Well, it's not that people are hostile towards Christianity on their own - it's because all those right-wingers have made them that way. They are the hostile ones and everybody else is responding to that."

I didn't want to go there - well, actually I did -  but I sensed the Lord wanted me to stay focused. And I sensed that comment was a fiery dart aimed at me to go down a wrong trail.

My desire was to continue the conversation with my new friend but as we kept slowly moving through the jetway, the older woman just kept talking and dominating until … she decided to take a seat near the front of the plane.   “Have a good trip!”

I turned to my friend and asked, “Would you like to sit together?”
She did  -
It was so obvious that God's hand was behind this encounter.  Two women, very different lives, going and doing very different things.
Yet God, behind the scenes, orchestrated to put us together.  
He had something to accomplish.  Truth to be shared.  Hearts to be encouraged.

The conversation that followed was personal and I have no idea if my new friend will end up reading this post, but I was so encouraged.  I knew this was the person I had prayed for that morning.  She told me that she was so very thankful she had met me.  And I am so thankful I met her.
After I arrived in Charleston, I picked up my car and headed home.  I thought about Colossians 4:2-6. 
"Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;  praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;  that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.  Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."
The Basket.  It was my door for the word.  

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claudia - May 17th, 2014 at 3:55 PM
Can I borrow it? Flying to New England next week ; )

Cathy Ladbury - May 18th, 2014 at 11:45 AM
Isn't it awesome what God can use? Who would have thought "a basket"? But He was also able to use you because your heart and mind were prepared and centered on Him. Thank you for sharing, Audrey. May we all be ready for God to use us as His witnesses, in whatever way He chooses.
suzanne - May 24th, 2014 at 4:35 PM
Wonderful post, so well-written, and instruction for all of us. Thank you, Miss Audrey. I have re-read this a couple of times, so that I remember to always be mindful of ways to share Jesus with others. Bless you for sharing it!

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