Even for me and even for you, things don’t always go wonderfully. In 2018, for my spring hike, I walked from the middle of West Virginia to a day before Cincinnati, Ohio, connecting my two pieces of previously walked trail. I met some wonderful people and saw some beautiful and interesting country.
But the last half of the hike was hot, humid, and buggy and the trail was unmaintained, overgrown with blackberries and Green Briar. I had to backtrack to take the bike routes on roads instead of the foot trail. I am getting older and I cannot make good time on bad trail. Thunderstorms released deluges of water on me. The weather sucked.
Near the end of my hike someone called the cops on me. It was the mother and sister of a woman who hospitably gave me a shower and a spare bedroom for the night. I had no trouble with my hostess. Pat and I had a great time talking but she told me her mother and sister were afraid of everything. We were surprised when the young policeman knocked on the door. But we convinced the polite policeman that I was harmless, and he left.
Another day or two later, I was tired of hiking and I wanted to be done. I was tired of the weather. I was tired of knocking on doors and asking strangers for assistance. I didn’t want the cops to be called on me ever again. I was a little ahead of schedule, but I decided to just walk straight through to Milford, even though I knew my ride to the airport couldn’t pick me up early. I knew there was a park there. I would just sit there for a day. I said, out loud, I think, the only way I was going to stop was if someone jumped out of the bushes and offered me a bed. And no one had ever done that before.
And then, exactly half-way to Milford, someone did. I was walking up a road and saw a house to my left past a big lawn and nice landscaping. A man and woman were getting out of their car and unloading groceries and the woman saw me. She walked across the large midwestern lawn to the road and asked if I was walking the American Discovery Trail. She knew what it was. To my amazement, she said they had hosted other hikers before. What could they do for me?
I stammered that it was really hot, and I wished for some shade to eat my lunch. Of course, she said. Come on over to our house. We have a nice covered porch. What would you like to drink with your lunch? Why don’t you just come inside? We have air conditioning. One thing led to another and I was offered a shower, and dinner and a bed. They wouldn’t let me use my sleeping bag on the pull-down bed in their spare room but insisted on nice clean sheets. And if there was any doubt that my arranged pickup in Milford couldn’t come when I got there, they would be happy to come and drive me to the Cincinnati airport to catch my flight. Oh, and did I like ice cream? She sent her husband to the store to get their favorite brand of ice cream for me. And I hadn’t really asked for a thing.
In my amazement at all of this, I could hear God laughing at me, saying, “It’s what you said you needed. Didn’t you think I could provide it?”
Have you ever been completely surprised by God’s gracious gifts given to you by strangers when you came to the end of what you could do?