Published August 25, 2015
"When God Intervenes"
Arriving at church, after a hectic morning at home, I was thinking of what I needed to do before services began. The hot water and coffee carafes were in the car and needed to be set on the snack table in the lobby. We had prepared them at home. I needed to find a light snack in the kitchen. Which devotional should I use this morning before Sunday School? There were several papers I had brought to church that needed to be distributed to church mailboxes. And, of course, I wanted to talk to people. That was the most important part.
I was not prepared to be met outside the building by one of our regular church attenders and an unfamiliar lady in a cycling outfit. The lady's bicycle stood beside the building loaded with various bundles. She spoke with a heavy Eastern European accent and directed a question to Paul, asking if he was the pastor.
Paul hesitated in his answer, so I asked the lady if we could help her. She looked at me and in dismay said, "A woman pastor?!" I chuckled and Paul finally said, "Well, I am preaching today."
The lady, Patricia, started telling her story. She was traveling from Ohio to Upper New York. She needed money for food. We listened carefully and understood most of what she said. She told us she could not come in to the service, since she hadn't had any where to clean up and had an odor from her bike riding. I assured her she would be welcomed and we told her we would help her.
My policy is to not give money to strangers. I would buy a meal for someone, but I don't give cash. Patricia agreed to come in to the church and wanted to bring her bike along so no one would take it. I found her a place for the bike. Members began to talk to Patricia and make her feel welcomed.
I suggested to Paul that we get McDonald's gift certificates to help Patricia with her food needs. Although I had many jobs to do, we agreed I should take his car and get the certificates, getting back in time to begin the church services.
I headed for his car and started it. I adjusted the seat, but couldn't reach the brake and gas pedals. The seat seemed stuck. I turned off the motor and restarted the car. When I tried to move the seat, it was still stuck. I could only adjust it so far and it was not sufficient for me to drive. (Only later did I find out why.)
A hectic morning had turned into an unbelievable morning.
I went back into the church, knowing I now did not have time to run to McDonald's. I told Paul my problem and we decided we would figure out what to do after I did the opening. Two men of the church realized what I was attempting to do for Patricia and each offered some money. (We have a "helping" church, which is one of the things I love.)
I did a morning devotional including the fact that Jesus died for us, wants to forgive us and loves us. I was well aware of the fact that we had a visitor and I didn't know her spiritual condition and needs.
As everyone went to their Sunday School classes, I made sure Patricia knew where to go and then consulted with Paul as to what we should do to help her. We decided to give her cash and by then, after talking with her a bit more, I was comfortable with that.
Patricia stayed for Sunday School, as well as staying for the corporate worship service. During our sharing time, someone suggested we pray for our visitor. I was happy to include that in the pastoral prayer and she seemed to appreciate the thought. Paul's message was about when God seems silent. I prayed that it touched her, as it did me.
When Paul and I greeted people as they left church, Patricia was one of the first through the door. She came to me and reached to give me a big hug. I returned the gesture and thanked her for worshiping with us.
As I thought about the morning and all that happened, I saw God's leading.
You know that car seat I couldn't adjust in Paul's car? It is our "new" car, although we've had it for 11 years. Over those years, I have driven that car many times. I have adjusted that seat. I've been able to reach the pedals just fine.
Since Sunday, I haven't sat in the car and adjusted the seat, but I would guess I would have no problem adjusting the seat.
My plan on Sunday was to drive to McDonald's to get gift certificates for Patricia. As Paul spoke several times with our visitor, he learned that she did not eat fast food or drink sodas or coffee. She shopped at grocery stores for fruits and vegetables. Getting McDonald's gift certificates would not have helped her at all.
I didn't know that, but God did.
So, have you had any frustrations where something didn't work like you thought it should? Perhaps God has a plan which isn't your plan. He knows what is needed better than you do. Perhaps what you are trying to do even with all your good intentions isn't what is best.
Trust God to give wisdom through your days. Seek His guidance. And, when things don't work according to your plan, know God has a better plan and relax in Him.
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