Side Trips

Today I was driving to Waxahachie from a direction from which I was not used to driving. Lost in thought about how I always end up where God intends me to be, even though I am forever taking these side trips that I don’t particularly want to take because they inevitably delay the journey, I missed my cutoff to Waxahachie.  Continuing in my thoughts, for whatever reason unknown to me I find myself in these places that I cannot wait to leave, yet I know I am there because God called me to that place for a particular time for a particular purpose.  Anyway, these were my thoughts when I happened to miss my cutoff, so I pulled off at the first service station I could find to get gas and directions. Standing out front in her bare feet, smoking like a chimney, was a skinny little lady with long whiskers growing out of her chin.  “Miss, Miss, excuse me, but are you driving down towards Shiloh?”  “Actually, I’m not sure where Shiloh is.  I’m trying to find my way to Waxahachie,” I said.  “Well, I just got out of jail. They impounded my car for an outstanding ticket and it’s just two exits down that way but I don’t have any shoes on.”  “And, you are asking me for a ride?” I asked hesitatingly. The last and only time I picked up a hitchhiker was back when I was in college during a summer break when I was galavanting around Colorado by myself in my new 77 Impala.  I picked up a young Hispanic man, his 2 year old son and a puppy walking in the rain on the freeway.  A few miles into the ride, he pulled out a reafer.  It scared me to death.  I was 19 years old and had a whole year of college behind me, but somehow had managed to keep clear of weed even though all my friends in music school regularly partied with the stuff.  I politely refused his offer to take a “toke” and apologetically put him, his 2 year-old and puppy out of the car at the nearest service station that had shelter.  So, being three decades more cautious than when I was 19, I asked this lady to open her bag and pour out the contents onto the sidewalk, which she glady did. There was no gun or knife, but there were a number of prescription drugs, but nothing that I imagined looked like marijuana or any other street drug.  I looked closely at the citation for her outstanding ticket for which she was arrested. Okay. Story checks out. So, I drive this woman home, which turns out to be about 5 miles in the opposite direction from where I needed to be going to get to Waxahachie.  While in the car, she begins questioning me as to whether or not I go to church. “Yes, I do.” I was surprised to be asked that question. There was no sign of me being a preacher lady in the car, and I felt no need to tell her that I pastored two churches.  She said, “I don’t go to church myself, but I believe in God. Do they speak in tongues at your church?” “Uhhhhh, no, not that I have ever experienced,” I answered.  “What kind of church do you go to?” she asked.  “Methodist.”   “Well, I don’t speak in tongues myself, but I went to a Pentecostal church once and seen them people do it. I was sure slain with that Spirit they talked about.  I think God can come to you in unexpected ways sometimes just to let you know that you’re heading in the right direction.  You know what I mean?”  I smiled,  for this I was certain was true.  We arrived at the trailer park. A man with a beer in his hand was sitting on the steps of her tiny trailer as we pulled up.  “Yes, m’am. I think I do know what you mean,” I responded.  As she got out of my car she said, “Thanks for the ride. I hope you find your way!” I smiled again trying really hard not to burst out laughing.  “Thank you, but I’m not as lost as you might think, Teresa!”  As I drove off, I thought to myself, I could not possibly love God more than I do at this very moment…our God, who constantly reassures us, directs us, and who makes us laugh!  I don’t always like the side trips, those that take 5 minutes anymore than those that take 5 years, but I do thank God for them!!!

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