I was in South Bend, Indiana for the second time in about a month’s time. My previous trip was spent mostly feeling lost as I navigated this unfamiliar city. For this second trip, I borrowed a GPS to aid me. It was enormously helpful and gave me the confidence of a local driving around town. For three days, I assuredly drove from my hotel to Granger Community Church to attend meetings and all over the area looking for things to photograph during free time.
On Saturday morning, I vacated my double queen room at 5:00am for my return flight and punched the coordinates to the South Bend Regional airport into the GPS. Leaving the parking lot of the hotel, I immediately took a left turn to the intersection and was intending to take a right hand turn. I had been to the airport before and knew the general direction. Instead, the GPS was pulling me to the left in what seemed to be the opposite direction. Trusting the GPS and being alone in the intersection, I literally put my rented Nissan Xterra in reverse, backed up and got in the left turn lane. I was happily on my way.
Driving, I was thinking about the long day ahead of me; in and out of three airports on my way to Billings as the GPS led me down one familiar road to another. After ten minutes of obedient driving, I started noticing that I was headed downtown and toward the Notre Dame University campus. The night before I attended mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame so the road was fresh in my memory. The thought occurred to me that I must have entered the coordinates for the campus instead of the airport. I quickly pulled over to check the GPS and was surprised that South Bend Regional Airport was in fact my destination. I was confused. I had been to the airport before and this was not the way I went before. My confidence in the GPS was beginning to wane. My brain started mounting resistance to the prompts I received from the voice in the little box labeled Magellan. I seemed to be going in a dizzying array of circles in the down town corridor. I started getting mad.
Driving a rental, I knew I needed to fill the fuel tank before returning the vehicle to Avis. I stopped at the only gas station open for business. I was running my card at the pump when I noticed a young man walking my direction and talking on a cell phone. As he passed on the sidewalk alongside the row of pumps, I heard him leaving a voice message on the other line. He continued walking past me about 50 feet before turning around. He approached me saying, “You’re someone that can pray for me.” Surprised by his statement, I questioned, “How do you know that?” “God told me”, was his immediate reply. I asked him to tell me what was going on. The story he relayed to me broke my heart. He told me that his daughter was born the day before and there were complications with her digestive system. He said her stomach was too small and the size was causing her to vomit. Doctors wouldn’t let her go home because she had been aspirating the vomit and it was too dangerous. Having not slept much in the hospital, this young man decided to go on a walk and God led him to me. Or did God lead me to him?
God’s leading and timing is amazing. Just over 18 years ago, my son Jared was born with complications. I could completely relate to this young man’s plight. We prayed together for the health of the baby and his young wife. I also prayed that God would bless him in the midst of this turmoil. He thanked me and confidently continued walking in his original direction. I climbed into the Xterra. Driving away from the gas station and watching the young man walk down the sidewalk as I passed, it all suddenly made sense. God had orchestrated that meeting. For some reason I was supposed to pray with that guy.
Here’s an important lesson about following God. While I was questioning the functionality of the GPS, God led me to the exact place He wanted me. There have been times in my life that God did and/or allowed things I do not understand. There have also been times God led me in a direction that at first seemed confusing. During those confusing times, while my brain begins to mount resistance, I really have two options: I can strike out on my own trusting my wisdom or I can stay His course and trust His wisdom. I’d like to say that I always do the later but it’s simply not the case. My wisdom usually leads me to a place that leaves me looking for the nearest exit. Trusting God to help us navigate this life means complete reliance on Him – just like I trusted the GPS to get me to the South Bend Regional Airport – which it did, albeit the long way… Trusting Him even though I feel confused and lost sometimes. I guess it’s all part of the adventure.
To see pictures of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart that I took the night before, click here.