When we go camping, I have a list of everything we need categorized and updated yearly. I live by the old boy scout motto “Be prepared.” I value efficiency and love it when everything goes smoothly. That means I am forever whittling down the possibilities of mistakes.
Coming back from a recent camping trip to Washington state, we heard on the radio that it would take an hour to cross the border. We groaned and decided to have dinner out and hoped the border wait would lessen. But while we dined, it doubled. Double groan. We sat for a long time with the engine running while we waited to return to Canada. As we did, I wished I had not booked a directee for a spiritual direction session the next morning. Then we could have camped that night and crossed more quickly in the morning. In the end, we got back late, unpacked the minimal amount, and crawled into bed.
The next morning I went to our church to meet with my directee. The person didn’t come. I looked back at the e-mail conversation and realized we had never confirmed the appointment.
This kind of thing drives a be-prepared-efficiency-driven-list-maker crazy. But the Holy Spirit had been speaking to me about mistakes and how God uses them to adjust our course. While on vacation I read about the life of St. John of the Cross. This story stood out to me:
One feast day the brother cook let a pot of rice boil over and burn.
Far from becoming angry, Fray John quietly consoled the brother,
“Don’t worry, my son; we can have whatever else you’ve got. Our
Lord does not mean us to have rice today.”
Instead of fussing or blaming, St. John had a “habit of seeing the hand of God in all things.” How life-giving this is. How freeing to welcome God’s direction in everything, even our mistakes.
So, instead of getting angry with myself or the directee, I wondered why God wanted me at the church that morning. Sure enough I was about to leave when one of the guys that comes to the Wednesday Lunch Club showed up. He talked to me through the window of my office.
“Someone is here,” he said relieved.
“Yes. You’re lucky. No one’s usually in on a Monday.”
“Well, I prayed about it and see?”
He needed food and I got him got some from the church’s food bank and from the donations we receive from Cobs Bakery and Starbucks. As I did, he told me more about his situation, hopes and frustrations. He was pleased when I offered to pray for him.
“Thank you very much. I really needed this,” he said. “God answered my prayer.”
God was answering mine too. In the Lord’s Prayer I pray, Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I had to chuckle when I found the image for this post. I had forgotten that the reason scouts are supposed to be prepared is, not only for wilderness survival, but to “do a good turn daily.”