We were on vacation. In Colorado. In August.
All the locals said it was hot. But the low humidity felt amazingly refreshing to us Southerners so we went for hikes during the day and walks in the neighborhood almost every evening after dinner.
God was writing another chapter of our story that week. Originator of the words we speak, the Word Himself, He weaves our story into the fabric of His own.
Do you love stories like I do? Jed Ostoich wrote, “Every day we tell stories—describing to co-workers the previous evening’s activities with dramatic flair or recounting an escapade from our childhood with all the suspense of a great novel. When we turn off the lights and close our eyes on the stress of the day, our brains tell themselves stories for hours.”* The Great Storyteller made us in His image, so of course we love stories too!
Gracious friends let us stay in their guest house that week. The four of us prepared dinner together in their kitchen one evening soon after we arrived. We ate on the deck and caught up on their lives and ours, their kids and ours, the future of their work and ours. Amid the blossoming life-giving story we wrote that night was a parenthetical mention; our host had recently hired a couple he was very excited about joining his team. The wife was arriving to look at houses in a few days, and he’d love for us to meet her if it worked out. Sure, we said, we’d love to meet her.
Conversation continued to flow as we moved inside and enjoyed a made-from-scratch blackberry-peach cobbler. Soon it was dark. We called our evening complete and Dennis and I walked by flashlight back to our cottage thoroughly satisfied and filled.
A couple of days later after dinner we pushed back our chairs. “Should we go for another walk again?” Why not we decided.
Stepping out the front door and leisurely walking down the front path, we stopped at the sidewalk and questioned, Shall we walk to the right or left? Let’s go left we decided, we haven’t been that way yet. We turned and began talking about ideas for our future. At the corner of Cascade and 11th St. we once again had a decision, Do we go right, left or straight ahead? Let’s go left we said, and on we walked and talked. After several more intersections, each with its own directional decisions, we came to a park. Wandering in, we crossed with our seemingly random footsteps from one corner to the opposite one.
Thirty minutes or so into our journey we decided to turn back home. On the way we slowed to admire a house or two. One in particular received more of our attention because Dennis asked me to explain specifically what I thought was ‘cute’ about that house. Stopping on the sidewalk I described what my eyes saw as beautiful and attractive in the vintage structure. A little mini story about beauty. And on we walked.
Soon we were returning up the gentle slope of 11th Street, now only a block away from our cottage home. A car drove past us and pulled in next to the curb in front of our host’s house. Dennis said, “I bet it’s one of the girls (our friends’ adult daughters). It’ll be fun to see them.”
As our steps took us nearer the car a woman stepped out, closed the door, walked to the trunk she’d popped open and reached in for her suitcase. The light went on for Dennis. He remembered. This was the new employee’s wife arriving for a 24-hour introduction to their new hometown.
Approaching her Dennis offered to help with her bag. Clearly taken back by these two strangers she declined. We introduced ourselves, explained our connection and shook hands. Recognition lit up her face. She exclaimed how she loved our ministry, FamilyLife; she and her husband had attended our Weekend to Remember Getaway. At that moment our friends came out to greet her, too. After a few more words the three of them went inside and we continued on to our cottage home.
My eyes were opened and I saw His sovereign, silent, usually unseen hand clearly.
Our walk was impulsive, spontaneous, with no thought of meeting this woman! Mentally I retraced our steps, reviewing how many intersections we’d crossed, how many directional decisions we’d made, how many times we’d lingered as we walked. If we’d taken a right instead of a left would we have missed arriving at that moment? If we’d paused longer in front of that house, or if we’d rested on a park bench, or if we’d stopped for coffee, or if…?
I marveled at the precision of our arriving at the exact moment she did!
Our Good Shepherd who never leaves or abandons walked with us that evening as surely as Jesus walked with two disciples on the Emmaus road. Like those disciples we were unaware He walking with us; nudging us imperceptibly with His Shepherd’s staff, “Turn here, slow down here, keep walking this way,” until we arrived at that predetermined moment. “And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him,” (Luke 24:31).
It wasn’t about meeting this woman, though He has purposes there too. God was saying to me, to us, “I am with you guiding you every day. Know this truth. Trust my Presence. Believe in Me.”
Even today a month later I am in awe of God’s gentle invisible guiding. He is walking with me always, even when I’m completely unaware.
And He is walking just as closely with you.
Believe it by faith. Don’t demand a similar experience but pray, “0pen my eyes Lord, I want to see Jesus,” and wait for Him to show you Himself in His Word, in His way, in His timing, specifically for you.
Be encouraged. Be reminded. Believe He is near!
*DTS magazine, summer 2018, page 5.