God doesn't do things the "normal" "simple" way. No, His ways are lots more interesting.
We were running late tonight, so I was not really happy to hear the van make a strange, not-good sort of sound when I started it up. Tom came out and listened to it, looked over the engine, checked the dash to see if any warning lights were on, and decided we'd probably be okay. So we left for church. We went a different way than Tom because we needed to pick up three sons who had started walking. Tom went on the freeway.
We were almost to Cornwall when suddenly I could no longer accelerate. In fact, when I pushed on the gas, the van actually went slower. So I just sort of drifted along, thankful that there wasn't much traffic. I was trying to get closer to town so that we wouldn't have too far to walk to get to a phone. Then the engine just stopped. The steering went stiff and I couldn't use the brakes. So I pulled off the road and coasted to a stop.
Josiah offered to go call Tom, and Sarah and Ben decided to go with him. They got out of the van, and Josiah said, "Hey, Mother, you have a flat tire!" Right. When do you get a dead engine and a flat tire at the same time? I hadn't even noticed any thumping. It must have gone flat just as I was pulling over. Maybe I ran over a nail or something.
So those three left to go find a phone while Elijah and I stayed with the three little boys at the van. Elijah decided to try to change the tire while we were waiting. Meanwhile, I got Samuel out of his carseat and fed him. While I kept watch for Tom, I noticed a silver car pull into the park behind us. It turned around and came up behind our van. A man got out and asked if we needed any help. There wasn't anything he could do, so we started talking. The conversation went like this:
Man: "Are you a Christian?"
Man: "I just wondered because I noticed your long hair. Are you Pentecostal?"
Me, chuckling a little: "No."
Man: "Well, what are you?"
Man, his face lighting up: "Really? What church do you go to?"
Man, interrupting me: "Calvary Baptist Church?"
Man: "On Pitt Street?"
Man: "That's great! I'm on my way there; I wanted to visit tonight."
As we continued our conversation, he told how he had called the church but got the answering machine. He tried to find our church, but couldn't figure out how to get there since part of Pitt Street is one way. So he was wandering around, trying to decide what to do. When he stopped to see if we needed help, he was way off course. As I was trying to give him directions, Tom pulled up.
It was getting too close to service time, so Tom decided to leave the van there. He had picked up the three who had called him, so there was no way to get everyone in the car. Our visitor graciously offered to take some in his car. Between the two cars there was exactly enough room.
Why does God do things this way? I mean, He could easily have gotten our visitor there the normal, quiet way visitors usually come to a church. He could have held our van together and not let the tire go flat. We could have gotten to church without any mishap, just like usual. Why did He arrange our paths to cross this way?
I don't know why. But I am rejoicing that God has a sense of humor. I love to see how God works this way. Some day I'll tell you how God used a bumper sticker, a can of beer and some missing laundry detergent to get us into Canada in the first place. But here's another little story I just thought of.
Some years ago while we were living in Texas, a man visited my dad's church in Pennsylvania. My dad got to talking with him and found out that this man was from Texas. My dad said, "Really? My daughter lives in Texas. What town are you from?"
Well, as most people know, Texas is huge. The odds are very slim that this man would be from anywhere near where we lived. So the man answered, "Oh, I'm from a really little town in Texas that you probably never heard of: Elmendorf."
My dad says, "Oh, that's the very town where my daughter lives!"
As it turned out, we knew this man. He went to our church.