“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your was my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55: 8-9).
We all have our gifts that God has blessed us with. Sadly enough, God did not bless me with the ability to find my way through foreign territory. To the normal person, the task my wife had given me would have been fairly simple. All I had to do was get my son to Children’s Mercy Downtown for a 2:00 pm appointment; however, throw in the fact that I lack a smart phone or any type of Garmin device AND the fact that I panic in traffic without a navigator … well, let’s just say I got lost.
There was no hope for me whatsoever. With the traffic swerving in and out, the 15 million signs flashing by me like bullets, and my two little ones yelling something about super gecko muscles in the back seat (it’s a PJ Mask thing), it was all a bit too much. I was overwhelmed. Frustrated. Frazzled. Humbled, I got off the highway and phoned Children’s Mercy for directions.
The gal was amazing. She really was. I had bypassed the hospital by a good 10 minutes, and her directions were perfect to get me to where I needed to go. I knew I’d be pushing it to get there by 2:00 now, but at least I knew where I was. Whipping my car back to the off ramp, I ran into a stop light. Part of me wished it to turn green—until I saw a sun-baked, scrawny, white-bearded veteran sitting on the side of the road. His sign that he held was simple and read “Homeless Vet; anything will help.” Well, it probably lacked the semicolon, and I am pretty sure he misspelled “homeless,” but you get the picture.
I don’t know what it was. I have passed guys like that plenty of times in my life without giving them a second thought, but this guy was different. I heard Christ’s words in my heart: “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25: 45). Pulling out my wallet, I motioned the guy over and slipped him a dollar. Not much, but he said anything would help. Plus, on a teacher’s salary … well … yeah.
“Thanks for serving our country,” I said, handing him the bill.
His smile warmed my heart as he moved to the car behind me. I wanted to talk to him. Find out what war he served in. Thank him again. But the light turned green, and I was off to the hospital. I suppose this would be a convenient time to say WHY my oldest son had the appointment there. He broke his arm last weekend and was getting his cast fixed. Not the best way to start the summer, I know, but with waterproof casts, the little guy is still allowed to hit the pool. Pretty sweet for him. I found the hospital with no problem and arrived a mere five minutes past my appointment time. Not bad at all.
After getting him fixed up, I didn’t even want to chance getting lost going home, so we took a different highway that I was more familiar with. About halfway home, another moment of panic choked me. We were nearly out of gas. The needle was on “E” and the tank icon was flashing at me. Not the best thing for a 97-degree afternoon! Seeing a Quick Trip sign, relief swept over me, and I gingerly guided my car off the highway … only to see the gas station was totally under construction.
“Dada, you can’t go there!” my oldest declared from the back seat.
“Yep, Daddy just needs to find another station,” I said matter-of-factly.
Only there wasn’t anything in sight. ANYTHING! All residential. I blindly turned on a road I didn’t know and prayed that the gas would hold out, and it did. Just long enough to find a station up the way. I looked around as I fueled up, relief sweeping over me like a flood. We were no more than a stone’s throw from my grandparents’ house. I hadn’t seen it in 13 years. Not since my Papaw passed, and they sold the place. So many memories. I ached to see it again. Just for old time’s sake.
“Hey, boys, how bout we drive you to see Daddy’s old playground I used to play at?”
They readily agreed. And I wasn’t lying. My grandparents’ house backed up to a playground that we would be driving by. We’d see a bit of both! Just a quick swing by in the car to take a trip down memory lane, right? Not so much. As we were driving by the playground, I heard those words that every parent loathes hearing.
“Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom!”
Really? Seriously? We just went at the hospital before we left, little dude! Apparently my son has the bladder size of an acorn. I didn’t want to go back to the station, so I parked and scanned the deserted playground for any sign of life. Who in their right mind would be at a playground in 97-degree heat? Nobody. Nobody except a parent wanting to relive his childhood memories and dealing with a kid who needs to pee.
“Alright, everyone out! There’s a bush right over there, buddy.”
Yep, I’m the parent that let’s my kid pee in public. At times. Only when nobody else is around. Oh, come on, it wasn’t all that bad. He probably hydrated that bush back to life from the sticky drought we’ve been having here anyways. I digress. It was actually a blessing that he had to pee. All it took was five minutes. We walked the park. Just my little ones and me, telling tales of memories that were so thick that I had to express them.
“That was where Daddy hit golf balls with your uncles.” “That was where Daddy played baseball with my friends.” “That was where Daddy chased a rabbit and it got stuck under a fence and I was too scared to grab it when I caught up to it.” They actually LIKED my stories! They asked questions, frolicked about, and jabbered about it all the way home. ALL the way home. Almost to the point of, “Okay, let’s change the subject!”
It wasn’t until we got home that I realized something. I didn’t plan on getting lost. But God did. He allowed that homeless veteran to get a little break. I didn’t plan on almost running out of gas. But God did. He allowed me to find my old stomping grounds. I didn’t plan on my son having to go pee. But God did. He allowed me to walk my boys through memories. It was such an awesome reminder that God is in control, and He is weaving his magic in our lives every day. Even when we think all is helter-skelter, His plans reign supreme.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3: 5-6).
(How is God on the move in your life? He’s always moving. In His own ways. Creating His own magic. Listen to 7eventh Time Down’s “God Is On the Move” below.)