On a "normal" Sunday morning last winter while I was on holiday vacation, my husband and I, along with our 17-year old son left for church. After services were over, my husband and son headed to the car while I remained gabbing among the congregation. As I finally left church heading towards the car to join my family, I noticed an older gentleman struggling with mobility on the sidewalk in front of our church. No one seemed to be paying him much attention. I didn't know the man, hadn't seen him in services, and found it odd he was walking towards church versus away. After all, services were over. I greeted him with a "Hello" giving him the normal greeting of "how are you today" fully expecting to just keep moving on by as he returned the expected "fine, thank you" response. (truly, how many times do people ever really tell you how they're doing, or better yet, how many times do we expect to hear and listen to how they're doing?)
However, this gentleman didn't reply "fine". Rather his response was that he really needed some help. Said he needed a ride to Carlinville (which is the closest larger town about 20-minutes away from the small community where I attend Church). I was really confused!! How did he get to Church in the first place? It was really cold, surely he hadn't walked? Where was he from? Where was he going? So many questions were running through my mind. He then pointed to a car wherein his wife was a passenger. That was even more confusing! He had a very nice car. He had gotten to Church. Why didn't he just drive himself to Carlinville? He went onto explain that he lived in the small town where I attend Church and had driven the car himself the few blocks to Church hoping to find someone willing to help he and his wife. The gentleman explained he was almost 90-years old and had been advised by his doctor he should not be driving any longer. He said his wife had lost her driving privileges many years back. He knew he was no longer capable of driving the entire trip, and was hoping to find someone at church willing to take them to Wal-Mart where he wanted to buy some special groceries and Christmas presents for their son and grandchildren who were coming home to visit for Christmas. He said his son hadn't been home in quite some time and his wife really wanted everything to be perfect for their visit.
I excused myself from the conversation for just a moment as I asked someone else from Church if they knew this couple. The person I asked confirmed they knew them and they had lived in this small community for quite some time. Really not thinking everything through, I returned to the gentleman telling him sure I'd love to help him out! So... I walked over to my family telling them what we were going to do and asked them to meet me at the Carlinville Wal-Mart. As I jumped in the gentleman's car and began our adventure to Carlinville, I noticed my husband was not behind me? Was he not going to pick me up or what? When I called him, he explained he was taking our son home who had afternoon plans and knew this trip to Carlinville was more than a simple drive to town. Good thing he knew me better than I knew myself! He was perfectly right! How could I bring this couple to Carlinville and instantly jump into our car and go home! How would they get back home. I hadn't even thought about that!
Halfway to Carlinville the wife asked if my husband and I had eaten lunch as they would absolutely love to have lunch at Nicks Pizza. How strange was my first thought. An elderly couple wanting Nicks Pizza? My grandma's first choice in food would definitely not be pizza!
Well I couldn't deny their need for Nicks! So again I called my husband and told him we were now eating lunch, and then going to Wal-Mart. He just laughed and said okay.
When we walked into Nicks, several people working at the restaurant were elated to see this couple come in the door! I was so surprised at the homecoming they received! One of the workers at Nicks starting hugging both of them and crying telling them how much she had missed both of them. The couple went on to explain it was a miracle from God they made it in for lunch that day, and told her the story of how they got there. The waitress at Nicks told me this couple had eaten there almost every day for 13 years until their health had become poor! Wow! She asked me many questions about their well being, but just didn't seem to understand I had truly just met them minutes ago.
After lunch, we headed off to Wal-Mart for an afternoon of shopping. My husband and I were so extremely blessed by this experience!! God worked a miracle in many lives that day! Thinking back, I question if I would have taken time to experience this blessing which God had waiting for me if I weren't on holiday vacation. Every year I take vacation around Christmas. This is a time for things in my world to slow down and for me to open my eyes to everything around me in a more relaxed way. However, I know this shouldn't happen just during vacation or the holidays. God's love is meant to be shared every minute of every day throughout the entire year, not just when we feel we have the time.
I challenge all of us to open our hearts and eyes to the world that surrounds us and experience vacation (or Christmas) every day of the year. Just imagine all the Blessings we may be missing out on! Take the time throughout the year to slow down and do something for someone which you may think you don't have the time to do. Read a book to your child or grandchildren, play a board game when someone asks you, turn the television and cell phones off and challenge other members of your family to do the same thing as you spend precious time together,visit an elderly neighbor or the nursing home, invite someone to dinner, the possibilities for blessings, love, and memories are endless.
May God Bless you at this time of the year and always, and may the challenges I present open an abundance of Blessings which God has just waiting for you to claim! The three most important things to have are faith, hope, and love. And the Greatest of these is Love. 1 Corinthians 13:13