I knew this was going to be a long trip, but I did not know that it would take almost two full days to get to my destination. Scott and I headed out early on Friday morning from Philadelphia to Orlando with an overnight stop planned in Columbia, SC at my parents’ house. Hoping for better driving conditions, I avoided I-95 and went down I-81 and everything was going great until we hit 10+ miles of traffic around Charlotte. After losing over an hour in that mess, we finally made it to my sister’s house for a dinner after over thirteen hours on the road.
We had a great time with my family, ate lots of food, got some much needed rest and planned for an 8AM start this morning. Right before I left my Dad made sure that I understood that I needed to take a side road to the main highway to avoid construction delays at their exit. As a dutiful son, I did just that and thought I must have been seeing things when we had to stop for a construction crew on the side road and nothing was happening on the main road. Was this a cruel joke? Had I misunderstood my Dad’s instructions? Within a few moments, I realized that in a bizarre coincidence, I had driven down that side road at just the time when a local foot race was being run and the police had everything stopped to let the runners go by. How could this have happened? We were going to waste precious time sitting there watching dozens of people go by and some of them (truth be told) were not even running at all.
As we arrived at the convention center many hours later for the trade show we are attending, I backed our van up the ramp and prepared to unload when I noticed something odd. Most of the doors to the building were closed and nobody else was coming or going. At just that moment someone came out of the doors and I asked them what was going on only to learn that the unloading period had ended at 5PM and nobody was being allowed in until the next morning. I could hardly believe my ears, but realized that I had no other choice but to come back when the doors would be open again. How could this all have happened? Was the world conspiring against me? My expectations of getting things done according to my schedule had been shattered and I was going to have to recalibrate.
Having made this trip to various cities around the country once a year for the same convention, I had lots of experience doing road trips and learning an important lesson that was reinforced again this year. While things may not always go according to my plans, if I am willing to listen and watch carefully, I am often astounded that God is in the midst of everything that is happening to me. He is still sovereign even when things don’t go my way. He will use all of my circumstances for my good and growth if I am willing to trust and obey.
As we were driving over the last couple of days, something wonderful was actually taking place inside that van. God was helping me to get to know Scott in an even deeper way and I discovered that Podcasts are a great way to spend time listening, learning and laughing while waiting. Candidly, I did not even know how Podcasts actually worked until Scott showed me that I had a Podcast app on my phone and it was actually quite easy to use. Suddenly, it all began to make sense why our President met a Podcaster in his garage recently to record an interview. Apparently there are quite a few other people listening to these fascinating shows and almost all are free.
I have often wondered why God seemed to have skipped the “patience” gene when he created my DNA and I have always been careful not to pray for it either. Despite this, God is constantly at work in this area of my life chipping away at my desire for control and certainty. Little by little he is replacing those tendencies with a willingness to embrace flexibility and accept uncertainty. Slowly, I am seeing the joy that can come from unplanned moments when serendipity is allowed to flourish in my life and I can’t take any credit for it.