It wasn’t one of my better days. I’d taken my children to the Black Hills of South Dakota for a rare vacation. We were plagued with one problem after another. Our exhaust system was in trouble, having just scraped the pavement, and now loosely tied to the station wagon frame with a wire. I was anxious to find a campsite and park the tent trailer we were pulling. Then I missed a turn and suddenly found myself headed to the top of Mount Rushmore. The timing wasn’t exactly what I had planned. My engine was overheating and a suspicious smell followed us up the mountain. When I parked the car, I wasn’t sure how we would get down.
While my children checked out the Mount Rushmore presidents, I stood in line waiting for a cold drink of soda, trying to figure out what to do next. I was feeling very much alone in a strange place, when I was surprised by hearing my name called . . . An unexpected greeting from a colleague traveling with his youth group. It wasn’t that he had any answers for my immediate needs. What mattered was he was there to listen and to share some of the burden I was carrying. And somehow, the discouragement of the day diminished.
*Jacob fleeing from his brother Esau’s wrath, having just stolen the blessing their father intended for Esau, spent a restless night. He dreamt there were angels ascending and descending a ladder. Then he heard a voice say, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15
Driving down the mountain, I wondered about other missed turns in my life. I thought of winding my way up a mountain before I was ready to climb it, but forced to, because I had missed a turn. I remembered how God had met me in the love and affection of friends in strange places. And I wondered if I had really missed a turn, or if God had guided me to a particular time and place, knowing my need for encouragement and a listening ear. Some people refer to these moments as “Divine appointments.” I’m not quite sure what to call them. I’m just grateful whenever they happen. They remind me that I’m not alone, even on my very bad days.
May all of your missed turns bring you to places of God’s love and grace.
*The story of Esau and Jacob is found in the Old Testament book of Genesis. Chapters, 25, 27, 32, 33 and 35.