Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Unexpected Journeys


Have you ever set out on a trip, a spontaneous or even well-planned out vacation, only to have it end up looking nothing like what you had in mind? Let me tell you about my Unexpected Journey.

I once was on a shopping trip while stationed in Germany. I had planned an overnight trip (on a bus) with a friend to shop for pottery in Poland and also the Czech Republic. It was our first time setting out on an adventure like this, but the other ladies on the bus were seasoned veterans and knew the exact shops they wanted to visit. We had arrived early in the morning to the pottery shops and made our way through several before continuing to the Czech Republic. We were dropped off at the bus stop in front of a busy market square. We were told to make sure we arrive back here an hour before departure time, hop on the white bus which will take us back to the parking lot where our coach bus would be waiting to take us back to Germany.

My friend and I were so enamored with the little shops and sights all along the cobblestone streets. We exchanged our US dollars and went to to speak. As the afternoon sun began to fade we realized we needed to make our way back to the bus. As instructed we went back to the market square bus stop and hopped on the white bus. We settled in to our seats and waited patiently for the parking lot to appear. As we chatted about our day, it became extremely clear we were heading out of the city and not to the bus parking lot. Our hearts began to beat faster and faster. Here we were, two American women, in the Czech Republic, heading away from the city and away from our ticket back to Germany. Then it happened! The bus driver suddenly stopped the bus, yelled at us to get off and then drove away. Let me remind you that this happened in 1998, well before the cell phone revolution, before twitter feeds and Facebook status-ma-thingys updates and insta-me-grams! Back home in Missouri, we would say, "Looks like we got ourselves into a sticky as sorghum molasses mess!"

Yes, we were left standing on the sidewalk of a strange town. Yes, we were in a foreign country with no help in sight. Both of us were thinking the same thing, "The bus is going to leave us here if we don't make it back by departure time." The bus driver even said he has left people behind for being late. How are we going to get back to Germany? How are we going to get back to our families? I remember starting to pray under my breath....Lord, please help us, Lord, please help us.

In the distance, we could see another bus heading our way and back in the direction of town. The bus driver thankfully allowed us to get on and head back into town. Seeing a local policeman, we did as any good American would do, we tried asking for assistance. To no avail he couldn't understand our English. (I had yet to learn German, much less whatever language they were speaking in the Czech Republic, Geez Louise people). By this time we knew that the bus had probably left. It seemed like one obstacle after another and we were beginning to lose hope. Just then a few Americans happened to overhear our cry for help and directed us to the RIGHT WHITE BUS that would lead us to the parking lot. Hallelujah Praise The Lord!!!!!

What do you think happened once we arrived at the bus parking lot? You guessed it, the bus was gone. Just kidding! The bus was actually still there. Can YOU BELIEVE IT???? All of the passengers had decided to wait for us (over two hours). Although I was overjoyed to see the bus still waiting, I dreaded facing the women inside. What would they think? How do we explain this? We felt just awful! I took a deep breath and walked onto the bus and down the aisle to our seats. The women were actually very understanding and were happy we were ok. Scared and a little shaken up from the whole ordeal, I remember praying on the ride home.

"Lord, thank you for this unexpected journey. Thank you for your protection, your provision and your wisdom. Thank you for the hearts of these women who were willing to wait for us. Thank you for the kindness of strangers in a foreign land. Thank you for a spirit of adventure, because without it, I wouldn't have the courage to share The Gospel with others. And thank you for never abandoning us and always being ever present on this journey! Amen!"

Be encouraged, sweet friend because Unexpected Journeys are often the best, and the views are amazing!

Isaiah 43:2 says, "When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am The Lord, you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Others died that you might live. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you" (NLT).

What unexpected journey are you on today?

Is it taking you outside your comfort zone?

Invite the Lord to go with you, he will guide and protect you, every step of the Journey!


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