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Friday, August 15, 2014

I'm Late - I'm Late - For a Very Important Date


By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady


For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]. Ephesians 2: 10

Swimming in the Florida Sun
People always ask where I’m going to go next. Sometimes I answer, “I don’t know. Are you about to tell me?” These journeys mimic my life – I plan one thing and God plans another and God’s plans are often revealed through circumstances and other people. If I know something is God’s plan, I usually do pretty well with obedience but the trick is to know something is God’s will.

For example, I left Jacksonville and meandered west on US-90. I was feeling the pressure of being able to click another state on the website map so when I got to Tallahassee, I headed north into Alabama. I had what I labeled as a flash of longing to head to Pensacola but chalked it up to my longing for Florida sunshine and beaches and disciplined myself to “stay focused.” Why is it that I forget that God also works through the delights of my heart?

Then I found out that my nephew Jim Milligan’s Grandfather-in-law had moved to heaven and that the services were going to be in Pensacola. I had only met his wife’s grandfather once but I was only 3 hours away and wanted Jim to have family representation at the funeral. Besides, I’ve found funerals to be great places to talk about Jesus because people are thinking about eternity. I then realized that the “flash of longing” was actually the “still small voice” letting me know where I was to go next. What a testimony I’d have had if I’d just trusted the voice when I heard it and was already in Pennsacola when my “sight” told me I needed to be here. But alas – it is hind sight that is 20/20. So after getting this important lesson, you’d think I’d automatically trust that voice the next time a test comes along but I almost talked myself out of listening again.

The funeral was actually this morning at ten. Ten is early for getting somewhere from a campground so I carefully planned the morning. I’d planned on leaving Pensacola right from the campground but I got invited to another party the night after the funeral. My rule on these journeys is to go where I’m invited so I had to tell the campground that I was staying an extra night. The office didn’t open until 9. It was a 30-minute drive and I needed gas so the timing worked if I had everything ready to go after I went to the camp office.

Everything was on schedule until the office was late opening up. While I impatiently waited, I visions of the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland saying, “I’m late. I’m late – for a very important date.” A man joined me on the porch. I felt that gentle tug to talk with him but also felt time pressure about what I knew was going to be a very formal funeral. I heard stirring inside the office indicating they were about to open and almost gave into the pressure of “being late for my very important date.”

With a mental sigh, I asked the man, “Where are you from?”

“Alabama. I needed to get away. My daughter and I moved here after my wife died.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you. I wanted to give up but my daughter’s just 10 and she needs me.” He was working in the campground. He’d grown up in church but because he liked rock music and tattoos, after one too many accusations of being a devil worshipper, he gave up on church. He’d never met Jesus personally but in his desperation to find solace in his grief, he’d visited what he called an “amazing church” two weeks ago.

It was so sweet. The Holy Spirit had prepared Him. He wanted Jesus to be real and longed for hope. I forgot the tick tock of that important date. Instead, I heard the song, Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling playing in my head and knew I needed to go softly and tenderly. I used the sweet words of the Gospel and he literally leaned into my words. He believed in a Father God but not Jesus so I shared what he was missing by limiting his belief to Father God. Father God is our Daddy – our Creator. Jesus is our Savior – offers grace for our mistakes and teaches us how to live abundantly. The Holy Spirit is the comforter that Jason so desperately craved but could not find until he met Jesus. When I invited him to pray, there was no hesitation. Afterward, he whispered, “I felt something.” I suspected that he had been blocking feelings because of grief. Imagine what a relief it must have been to feel again and have that feeling be the Holy Spirit.

I got into my camper oblivious to time. I gassed up and drove into the church parking lot two short minutes before my important date. I sat on the pew just as the music and funeral processional began.

All I can say is wow about my time in Pensacola. I’ve given the Gospel many times. Three people have met Jesus. I’ve had a full dose of Florida sunshine, sand, swimming, dolphins, birds, and yes, unfortunately, flies and mosquitoes. My plan is to leave Pensacola tomorrow. We’ll see what God has planned.
 


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