I am a person with little to no sense of direction. North, south, east, and west have vague connotations at best, which is one reason why I really like a loop road … if you miss your exit, don’t worry, it will come back around in a bit. Seriously though, in college, a friend and I were heading from Jacksonville across the Florida panhandle to visit my folks in Alabama … took the wrong exit coming off a bridge and ended up in Georgia. It’s been about three decades and I’ve yet to live that one down at family gatherings. As you can probably imagine, Google maps and Siri guiding me with step by step directions were most welcome additions to modern technology.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says to, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. I can’t say that all my paths in life have literally been straight as I have a tendency to loop and curve along the way, often going off the beaten path … but I have eventually gotten to where I’m supposed to be. And along the way, I have learned many lessons.
I’ve learned that there may be angels along the path. I know most will shake their heads at this next bit, but I have picked up hitchhikers on more than one occasion over the years. I don’t make it a practice – particularly as I am usually traveling alone. But on several occasions, the Lord has tapped me on the shoulder as I passed someone and I have trusted Him that I was supposed to give that person a ride for whatever reason. Never had a bad experience at all and on one particular occasion, I’m pretty sure I did entertain an angel. I was about to get on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge heading to Baton Rouge and it looked like rain. She was extremely shabby looking, carrying a garbage bag, and walking along the interstate. As I passed her, I got that tap, so I pulled over. I don’t remember all of our conversation along the way, but I do recall that it flowed easily, and at one point she made an observation that gave me cause to think she could see into my very soul. She sang for me the last half of our journey and although I’ve no idea what it was she sang, it was beautiful and operatic. When we got into Baton Rouge, she had me drop her off on the side of Airline Highway. As I pulled away, I looked into the rearview mirror and she was simply gone. Maybe she was just really quick on her feet, or maybe she really was an angel. I may never know for sure, but I know that the sense of peace I felt from that interaction was quite genuine.
I’ve learned that it usually behooves me to pay attention and not be in such a hurry. Going too fast might cause me to miss the warning signs — not to mention getting speeding tickets — and detours are usually there for a reason. Slowing down is usually a good idea, and I can think of multiple occasions when taking a moment to pause and think before speaking or acting would have benefitted me personally. And when I’m not paying attention, it’s easy to miss out — on life lessons from the Lord, on opportunities to interact with others, or just on a neat sight along the way. And sometimes on that path (right, wrong, or totally confused) you might meet people that God brought into your path for a specific reason — whether for your sake or theirs.
I’ve also learned that the journey itself is often greater than the end destination. With the precarious nature of things in our country right now, between concerns over the pandemic, social unrest, and too many people having been cooped up for too long, it may feel like we are never going to reach the end of this journey. But there are still lessons to be learned along the way and opportunities to bless others. I see people from our congregation reaching out in myriad ways to help out financially or with food donations, and connecting with phone calls, letters, and contributions to online ministry. Although this time has been like nothing else we’ve experienced, I feel it’s brought us closer together in many ways, and caused us to appreciate the privilege of being able to meet together as faithful followers of our Lord. This too shall pass, but until such time, I would encourage each of us to be open to what the Lord has to show each of us along the road.
Offered by Pam Jones
Our devotionals are going out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, with an occasional lagniappe issue. Please look for these congregation devotionals in your email box at about 6:45 a.m.