I was expecting Jim to come in the door after his morning walk when I received his text: “Have one more mile. I was waylaid but I will tell you about that later.”
Turns out, he was walking along a back road when he came upon an elderly woman who had fallen in the mud outside her home. She was confused and chilled, wearing only her nightgown. Her feet were bare. Jim gave her his sweatshirt, called 911, and ran up the road to get her daughter. As they waited for help, the dear relieved woman kept quietly praying, “Thank you, Jesus, ” and calling Jim her guardian angel. Jim was glad that he happened to walk there at that time! Later that day, he stopped by with a loaf of cinnamon bread to see how she was doing.
Most mornings we awaken with a planned route in mind, but we find at day’s end that we have not stayed on the route we intended. Our paths are often interrupted or redirected. We have not reached our desired destination or goal. Jim did not awaken with a plan to delay his walking time or to return later to his new friend’s home. But the delay and the detour seemed to bless him as much as he blessed her.
Today I am wondering how much more of God’s good work could be done if we were always willing- and even READY- to be interrupted or rerouted. In our desire to follow God’s will, I wonder if the best question we might ask is, “Where am I needed most today?”
When we read about Jesus in the gospels, we learn that he was always willing to change his route or stop along the way for some greater good. Jesus couldn’t reach every person with healing and hope, but in his short life he did what he was called to do: Jesus allowed God to take him to where he was most needed. Shouldn’t that be our call, too? Shouldn’t we give up our carefully planned routes and desired destinations if we can make a difference in a better way?
This week I have heard how other family members changed their routes. One who walked to a patient’s hospital room instead of her office to work on report deadlines. One who walked out of her warm and comfortable home on a snowy evening to care for a church member. One who stopped walking to his graduate school class to answer a call from his sister. Their original routes were good ones, important and worthwhile, but their redirection helped to serve a greater purpose, that of caring for the needs of others.
I am tempted to note that, of course, we can’t always do this. We sometimes have to avoid any detours or delays in order to remain on the route of our usual obligations and career deadlines and necessary self-care and already-full schedules and important expectations of others.
But maybe we don’t.