There are thousands of people at this year’s Gospel Coalition Conference. It’s in Chicago. Running into old acquaintances has been a surprise blessing.

The concourses here at the Hyatt McCormick Center are huge. Once a plenary session was over I rarely could choose a destination. Instead once I stepped into the concourse, the human traffic swept me along. The best that I could hope for was a friendly eddy to swirl out of the current and catch my breath.

Four times I heard my name. Each time it was fun to be connected with an old friend in the masses of strange faces. Always there was a smile!

Brian and I looked at each other with an identical smile. Our smiles erupted and we laughed. “Bruce!” “Brian!”

We happened to be heading in the same direction. Together we flowed with the crowd of people. In that brief time we caught up.

Just as I handed him my business card with my latest information, the stream of people parted. He was swept right and I was diverted left. We waved.

After the next session the current of humanity moved me down a wide concourse and swept me into an eddy while the main movement curved right. Just at that moment of rest, Crawford emerged from a double door entrance. “Bruce!” “Crawford!”

For a few moments we caught up on family, ministry, hopes and dreams. The best part is that he and his bride are coming to San Francisco this year. We hope to enjoy our fellowship even more deeply.

I smiled at that intersections of life. These were unplanned times of fellowship. Each one was a gift from God. He is full of wonderful surprises.

These surprises were not yet complete. After a plenary sessions, I stood up and wove my way through the milling crowd of strangers. Then, a distantly familiar voice called, “Bruce!”

I turned to an unfamiliar face. “It’s me, Dempster!” “Whoa! So good to see you. It’s been so long, years.”

He was a student long ago. Now, he is busily serving faithfully in a Michigan church. With enthusiasm he told of his journey.

I listened with rapt attention. He had the glow of a man thrilled with the privilege of ministry. We not only caught up with each other but with a mutual friend from years gone by. Fellowship, it’s a treat both planned and spontaneous.

photo credit: google image