Friday, April 8, 2016

An appointment on a bus

Today, I have a doctor's appointment at 12:15.  I know where I am going and why.  I have adjusted my schedule to get there on time.  Time and place are all arranged. The doctor will be there.  I will be there by specific design.

Earlier this week on Monday, I had an appointment of a different kind.  I thought it was just a flight home from La Guardia airport, a reservation made months ago. I already checked in on-line.  My boarding pass was inscribed on my phone.  The details were all settled.  I just needed to get there on time.

I had a couple of hours in my daughter's apartment before needing to catch the bus that would take me to the airport.  She had already left for work.  I dressed appropriately for the chilly 40 degrees and the forecasted rain.  I packed my suitcase, and I loaded my backpack with what I would need on the flight.

And then with plenty of time left, I heard the rain begin, little patterings against the window pane.  On the sidewalk five floors down, I could see umbrellas open up and people walking a little bit faster.  The weather front had arrived, promising heavy rain the rest of the day.  And it was only going to pour even harder. "Leave now," I thought.

I bumped my suitcase down the five flights of stairs, and then, scurried to the bus stop several blocks away, navigating around puddles and small rivers already coursing along the curbs.  The hood of my rain jacket was pulled up, but I could still feel drops on my face.  I zigzagged down the street, crossing over the busy avenues when the traffic light was with me.   I arrived at the bus stop just in time to get my ticket from the curbside machine as the bus pulled up.  It was an extended bus that looked like a huge animated caterpillar.  I entered quickly through the nearest door and sat sidesaddle on the first available seat, my suitcase wedged where my feet should have been. 

At every stop, people poured into the aisles.  A woman asked me if she could sit next to the window.  I moved over.

I thought that I was going to be early to the airport.  But as it turned out, I was right on time.  The woman beside me immediately engaged me in conversation, almost as if we were friends who had made an appointment to meet at that specific location, that exact time, that reserved seat.  It turned out we had many connections besides just traveling to the airport at the same time.  She even grew up in a small town in Ohio where we lived more than twenty years ago.  It was a delight to chat with her, and she helped me navigate the enormity of La Guardia.

I cannot know the significance of that particular conversation on that rain-soaked afternoon, but just that God arranged it. God is at work whether I know it or not.  That day, I caught a glimpse of one of those specifically designed details our stories are made of, that which we could not have possibly arranged on our own, those things we would not even know to arrange.

It was one of God's divinely placed appointments that I couldn't possibly see coming when I left the apartment and boarded that particular bus, out of all the hundreds of buses that would pass by that stop. I was there by specific arrangement.

"LORD, guide me into this day.  Show me where to turn, when to go, what to notice, even when I don't know what divine appointments You have ordained."

God guides us that profoundly, even in what we see as only the smallest details, even in what we may never comprehend. God invented time.  And He is not constrained by it.

But I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in Your hands...

                    Psalm 31. 15

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