God does indeed move in mysterious ways. In fact, the scriptures tell us that His ways are past finding out. This blog entry is about one of those times!
As we left the warmer climate of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in our travel back from the West coast, we found ourselves returning once again to that area of the country where Fall is truly Fall and Winter is indeed Winter.
When we began our trip in February, our plan was to “follow the seasons” around the country. That’s why we headed North and West because we new that to head South and West would be just too hot and we needed to be in those places that were fairly comfortable for sleeping each night. But now we’re beginning to feel the cold a lot more as we make our way back to the Eastern parts of the U.S.
We arrived in Foley, Alabama and needed to find a suitable place to sleep. Instead of checking out our usual places, such as Walmart and neighborhood street parking, we knew that one of our Southern District churches was in Foley. So, I called the pastor of the church, Steve Pelt, and after explaining who I was, I inquired as to whether he would grant to us permission to spend the night parked in the church parking lot. He wasn’t quite sure how to respond to the request but said that it would be OK for us to do just that but that perhaps I could drop by the church first,. . . just to say “Hi!”
After I arrived at the church I had a very pleasant conversation with Steve and he graciously gave me a key to the church and made the church, and his personal office shower (glory!), available to us. Then after giving me a little tour of the building he took me to the lobby of the church and showed me their coffee machines. He asked: “How comfortable are you in using this kind of equipment?” I replied, “Steve, I roast my own coffee.” At that Steve responded, “Follow me, and I’ll show you our setup!”
So, after receiving that little bit of instruction we parted ways and I picked up Bonnie, who had been doing some computer work in the Foley library, we stopped for our dinner, and then went over to the church. It was mid-evening when we went into the building and I was in the process of showing Bonnie the coffee setup when I saw a car pull into the parking lot and a lady walked to the front door. I unlocked the door and discovered that she was there for a Bible study, but unknowingly to her, that Bible study wasn’t for another week yet. I then explained who we were and that we had been given permission by the pastor to park in the church parking area. She said, “But, it’s supposed to be cold tonight.” “Yes,” I replied, “but we’ll be OK in our van. We have a great quilt that is really quite warm.” She selah for a moment and then said, “I would like to invite you to spend the night with me at my apartment. I have a spare bedroom and would just love to have you folks share the apartment with me.” But I responded, “We’re strangers to you and you’re offering your apartment to us? Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” She said, “Well, we both have the same Father!” How could I argue with that?
Well! That was the beginning of a “God-ordained” meeting between Cindy Rice and us, and we spent three nights with her. She was truly an angel of God to us to help deal with the colder weather we were then experiencing. Our time with her has been delightful and we thank God for bringing Cindy into our lives. She loves the Lord and has a passion to serve Him in any way He gives direction. It was obvious to both Bonnie and me that this was really true in her life. The Spirit of God bore witness with our spirits that we were one in the Spirit.
Cindy was an unexpected surprise that had begun with another unexpected surprise from Pastor Steve as he graciously opened the church to us for our use. We spent the following day in the lobby of the church working on our pictures and our blog, rather than heading over to the library to do that work. All those we met at the church and, of course, Cindy, have been so kind to us and we have been truly touched by their warmth and love.
You never know how God will lead you each day. But one thing is certain and that is that He will bring opportunities to you to demonstrate His love to others. It may not always be in the way described above, but you can be used of God each day to be a blessing to others. You just need to be willing to be used. And you need to be willing to be used at a moment’s notice. Believe me, it’s an experience that is truly worth it. Sometimes you will be on the receiving end and sometimes you will be on the giving end. . .but both ends can be a rich blessing and establish a relationship that will last into eternity. Let your joy and love for the Lord be exposed to people. You won’t regret it!