Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we plan.
I PLANNED on trying to go running this morning. Running is definitely nowhere near my list of “Favorite Things to Do”, but I thought this morning would be my best bet at giving it a try. I didn’t have any meetings and I thought last night’s rain would probably have cooled things off a bit. So after taking care of a few things this morning, I grabbed my keys and my iPod and headed out the door.
I PLANNED on walking over to the soccer pitch/ track, making a few laps, and prayer-walking my way back home. The walk over there was great! The sun was playing peek-a-boo behind some clouds and a nice breeze stayed pretty steady for the most part. As I got closer to the pitch I realized there were kids playing soccer so I was not going to be able to run there. So I waved to Josh & Daniel and decided to just keep walking and praying through some new-for-me territory.
I PLANNED to curve around to the right, circle back to the left, and come back down to the main part of town a few blocks from where I started… basically just make a bigger loop than my original prayer-walking plan. So I made the first curve to the right. I followed some paved roads and a few dirt roads winding their way through some houses and tobacco fields. And then I began to realize that my path was not leading back to the left at all, only winding further toward the river.
I PLANNED on making my way back to the main road and trying to find a way to loop back to where I originally wanted to go. I did find the main road and took the first jog back to the left. I ended up not at all where I anticipated, but I began to realize, “Hey, I’ve been here before.” It was the path to my friend’s weekend house out in the country so I kept walking. The songs of praise flowing from my iPod straight into my heart and the beautiful weather were just too wonderful to turn around and go home. I felt God’s presence walking with me and saw His glory all around me. I can’t put into words how fun it was. I couldn’t quit smiling and, yes, I even danced a bit. But, don’t worry, I tried to make sure none of the people working tobacco saw me, “That American girl is plain crazy!” Hahaha
Anyways, I PLANNED on heading up to the turn-off that I was pretty sure led up to the main road. I walked past a shepherd with his goats. The man watched me as I passed by, but only one goat noticed me… the goat that had removed himself a bit from the rest of the herd. He stared with a bit of fear and curiosity as I passed by, while the others just kept on grazing. It was a good moment for me. I realized how much the goats in that herd trusted their shepherd. They didn’t have to worry about me because they knew he would protect them from any harm. But it also struck me that the goat who had removed himself from his community was so easily distracted and moved to fear (not to mention that he was standing in the middle of a muddy mess instead of eating the lush green grass with his buddies). It was such a great reminder for me of some things the Lord has been showing me lately: the importance of trusting Him completely, and the importance of Biblical community. God used a donkey to teach Balaam a lesson (Numbers 22), and today He used a goat to teach me one too.
I continued on my little trek and finally came to the side street that I hoped would lead me back to the main road. I saw a nice little place with some picnic tables and a water fountain and thought about sitting a spell, but I already felt extremely refreshed so I just kept walking. I walked a while and then saw a lady coming towards me. I decided to go ahead and ask if I was on the right path.
I PLANNED on going straight up to the main road that would take me within a few feet from my house. The sweet woman informed me that, yes, the road I was on did in fact meet up with main highway just a little further up. She then asked me what I was doing out there and where I was from, etc. I told her I had been out walking and that I was from America. I asked her name and she responded, “Тетка Митра” (Aunt Mitra), and I knew from that moment that I wanted to be her friend.
She invited me back to her weekend house for coffee, so off we went. They have a wonderful little place tucked back in some gardens. I saw peppers, roses, and grapes, but I’m not sure what all else they had out there. Her husband, sister, brother-in-law, and neighbor all joined us. And, yes, I actually drank coffee – Turkish coffee! Granted, it had milk and sugar, but it still counts in my book.
We visited for a while and God opened many doors during that time. I got to share with them about our organization and what we do, but more importantly, I got to share with them about the importance of having a true faith in Christ and in what He has done for us. I’m not sure they fully agreed – they seemed to believe more that all religions are the same, just with different names – but they didn’t kick me out or run me off. They actually invited me back!
They were so fun and so kind and I am really looking forward to going out there again soon! They informed me that since they are retired, they are there every weekend. I also found out that their son works at a fast food place here in town. I’ve been there a couple of times, but I plan on going again soon to try to meet him. Please join me in praising God for this wonderful opportunity and in praying for this family to come to know Him as their Lord and Savior.
After coffee, I decided I should probably try to get home as it looked like a downpour might start at any moment. Aunt Mitra walked me back to the road and bid me farewell. With a happy heart I began my short journey home. But, unbeknownst to me, God still had another lesson in the bag.
There is one strip through town where the city recently went through and demolished all of the shops. I have heard they are planning to build something there, but I am not sure what. As I passed by that block there were bulldozers and workers removing the rubble from the old shops. In that moment it hit me how destruction and progress can look so similar. Had that moment been frozen in a photograph, it would have been impossible to know which was taking place. And, honestly, it will probably be a while before we know the true result.
The same is true with people. We see and interact with people for such a brief time in this life. Sometimes we see evidence that leads us to believe destruction is taking place in their lives. But who is to say that those same signs aren’t actually the beginning stages of progress? Or vice versa? I am reminded of the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13. In this parable, a man has planted wheat and his enemy came behind and planted weeds among the good seed. Believers (the wheat) and nonbelievers (the weeds) are walking through this life together. And, in the end, it will be made known which is which. It is not the job of the servants to say whether a plant is wheat or a weed – we can make observations, but ultimately, God makes that call.
So what does that look like practically? That means that, as a plant, I must constantly fight (or rather let Him fight through me) to remain pure and to grow into the grain of wheat that God has called me to be. If I see others around me who appear to be weeds, I pray for them. I lovingly reach out to them, encourage them, share Truth with them, and point them in the right direction. I do not condemn them. In fact, I CANNOT condemn them. We are all still in the growing process. What we are becoming will be made known in the end, but until that time, we seek His face and pray that as many around us as possible would grow to become wheat.
Needless to say, this has been a beautifully divine morning in more ways than one. I had not planned on posting on here today, but here I am. I just couldn’t hold it in! I had so many other plans that did not go as anticipated, and so many things happen that were definitely not part of my plan. But I am so incredibly grateful that God ruined my plans like He did.