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Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Beginning of the End

"What do you think about us all having a little vacation?” I was to be one of the attendants in a high school friend’s wedding, so thought it might be fun to make a road trip out of it with some of my university buddies.

“Sounds great! We could drop by and visit some of our IVCF friends along the way.” Pam had a super idea and we began planning our route.

“I just got a letter from Liz; she could really use a visit. She’s finding life a bit tough without her Christian friends around.” Pam was right; I’d had a similar letter from Liz.

“Okay, let’s figure out how much farther that will take us passed the wedding and how to manage it.”

It turned out to be quite a distance farther, but we all really wanted to see Liz light up when we knocked at her door. She’d be so surprised.

“Anybody got gas money?” Always the realist, I needed to know the details ahead of time.

"How about we just let the Lord help us over there? We can pool our money and then see how the Lord might provide as we have need.”

“Terrific idea. We can tithe on every amount we receive and send the cash back to Pastor Dan.”

I listened to my adventurous friends and tried not to remember the trip Pam and I had taken through Patty Canyon a few weeks earlier. Hadn’t worked out quite like we planned. (See Multiplication Lesson Part A for the whole story.)

“I will agree with the trip, guys, but I have only one condition. We need to not go past the point where we have enough gas to get to the next town and just hope we don’t run out of gas.” Laughter all around let me know that the Patty Canyon story had not been forgotten. “We go only as far as we have money to go. If we get to the last city we have friends to visit, but no money to go farther, we don’t just head out anyway and hope God provides the money or multiplies the gas, right?”

”Oh, Sojourner, where’s your sense of adventure? It’ll be fun!”

Truly, I was being taken in with their excitement and, at last, agreed to go and let the Lord lead where He intended to provide…no farther. I didn’t want to get stranded somewhere and I knew God would get us there and back, if it was His idea in the first place. It just might be since He, too, would care about how Liz was faring without her Christian friends.

The morning of departure arrived, a bright and sunshiny day. The three of us pooled our money, followed by a prayer that God would protect us and provide for us during the journey. We all agreed not to ask anyone for money.

Stopping at the first home, we piled out and reveled in our reunion with our Christian friend. The afternoon was such fun. As we prepared to leave, one of his parents approached us, having heard our plan to visit our university Christian buddies. “Here, just a little to help you on your way.”

I looked down at my palm, seeing the folded bills he’d pressed into my hand. “Oh, uh, thanks! That’s really nice of you.” The heat spreading across my face let us all know that this was a bit embarrassing for me. I’d never taken such a gift before this, but was, definitely, in no position to say we didn’t need it. We did. I was excited that God had urged this father to help us. Good-byes said, we got back in the car.

“You see, Sojourner, God wants us to make this trip. Look how God prompted that guy to share with us.”

“Right you are. I’ll prepare the tithe on it when we get to my parents’ house tonight.”

Mom and Dad were away but had offered us the use of the house for the weekend of the wedding. As promised, the first thing I did was get an index card, address the right size envelope to Pastor Dan, and affix $1.50 to the index card. It was marked “tithe on our first offering of help.” We planned to drop it in the mail the next day when we left town.

While my two buddies hung around, I headed for the wedding rehearsal. They’d be married in the church just down the road from my parents’ home. Then, there was a rehearsal dinner afterwards.

The evening went well and I was thrilled to see my high school friends again. It seemed like old times being there in St. Anthony’s Parrish. The dinner that followed was terrific, as was any full meal at a restaurant to a struggling university student.

The next day didn’t go at all as planned. I woke up ill and simply couldn’t make the wedding. I had to call my best friend from high school and tell her I couldn’t come. I was just sick at heart, as much as the rest of me. She was a nursing student and her roommate was there for the wedding. Fortunately, Linda and I were about the same size. Shortly after the phone call, I passed the box holding the beautiful formal dress out the front door to the waiting brother-in-law.

By late afternoon, I was well enough to continue our journey. It was only a short distance to our next stop, where we would stay for a few days, so I was confident I would be okay to leave.

We located a mail box and dropped our tithe off. We found out later that Pastor Dan had used it as an illustration in a sermon, before depositing it in the collection plate. We knew our church family was praying for us.

Arriving at Liz’s house, the expression of astonishment and joy that radiated from Liz was enough to have made the long trip worthwhile. The four of us had a marvelous time getting caught up on the summer’s happenings. We had much to share as there had been so many conferences at the church throughout the weeks of summer. Even just the telling of our trip there and the unsolicited offerings we had received to get us over to her house and back, thrilled her as much as us.

The day before we had to start back for the university where we lived, Liz took us across the street to meet an incredible neighbor. The lady cared for kids no one else wanted, right there in her own home. What I saw there, indeed, ended up setting a change in motion that I had never anticipated. One that had nothing at all to do with this adventure.

****The Beginning of the End, Scene 2, Next Post

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