Tuesday, October 20, 2015

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” ― Douglas Adams

I am a big believer in signs.  When I was confused about which seminary I should attend, I was sitting in an empty and quiet Marsh Chapel on the campus of the Boston University School of Theology.  While I sat there, the organist came in to practice, opened the organ and proceeded to play Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue” which is my all time favorite organ piece.  I told God I got it and enrolled then and there.  After being in Boston for less than a month (actually living in Stoneham about 14 miles north of Boston), I got a call that one of my parishioners was in the hospital in Malden and needed me.  It was eight o’clock at night, dark, and raining.  Now Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Manhattan are laid out like they are on graph paper, and it is very easy to find your way around.  Boston and its environs are laid out like the guy who did it had been drunk for eight weeks before he drew the first line.  They paved Native American trails, deer trails, cattle trails, and then decided only to put up a few street signs and assumed you would know the name of the street you were on, so that never appeared at any intersection.  I gamely took a book of maps and headed out into the dark and rain.  Did I mention that almost every other street is one-way?  Happily, before long, I discovered that there were these bright blue, reflective signs with a big “H” for hospital on them complete with arrows for when to turn (see picture at the right taken in the day time).  I was able to thus navigate to the hospital in Malden where I sat and prayed with my parishioner who was able to go home two days later.  The problem came when I left the hospital at ten that night.  It was still raining and dark and boy did I need a sign.  Unfortunately, there were no bright blue signs with a “WH” for Wiggins House to direct me back home.  I wandered and roamed and called Karen with a cell phone (dying battery of course) but she couldn’t help.  I finally ended up in a town called Saugus near the coast.  I had been going the wrong way but in Saugus, God sent me a sign.  It said “US Hwy 1” and headed north to New Hampshire.  I was excited and called Karen to tell her I would be home later because I had to go north to New Hampshire so I could go back south to Stoneham, but I knew how to do it.  I followed Highway One into New Hampshire, crossed over to Manchester, NH, and hit Interstate 93 that headed south straight into Stoneham.  It took a couple of hours to get home, but get home I did.  God does that to us sometimes.  We are wandering and looking for signs, but we are really looking for short cuts and bright blue reflective signs when God points us to another state in order for us to get where we need to go.  It’s not that God doesn’t send signs in abundance, our problem is our inability to read them and sometimes to even see them.  If you ask God for a sign, you have to let Him decide what kind and where it will lead.  I never knew that I would be led to where I would be sick, old, and poor, but richer beyond belief, happier than I have ever been, and serving God where He wanted me to serve.  If you have to go to New Hampshire to get back to Massachusetts, you do it.  It may not be the way you wanted to go, but in the end it gets you where you belong.
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