A Sunset, A Wayward Journey North, and Grace

Just got home from visiting a family that has become my family, up in Evanston.

This husband and wife have the kind of marriage that I can only pray to enjoy myself someday– they are best friends, equals, and still smitten with each other after over 10 years together. I arrived around 10 p.m., and they were somehow shocked that I came anyway after work– but how could I not go? They have invited me into their hearts and their home consistently and always without qualms. No matter what I need, they are there.

It was her birthday, and most of the party was over by then. I was glad, because I enjoy more quiet, intimate parties better. We sat in lawn chairs in their new backyard in their brand new home and chatted, along with another couple they know. It was exactly what I needed.

I really felt the presence of God in my life today.

After work I was walking to my car, when I saw the most staggering sunset in the parking lot. There were distinct rays in a way I’d never before noticed. And I just felt the deepest calm– that one day, I will see everyone I love and ever loved again. That there are family and friends waiting for me in Heaven. That my loved ones who have passed on watch over me with care, guiding my choices and protecting me from grave harm. That my life has a plan, and God is in control– all I need to do just trust him and ask for insight to His will. That my best is exactly enough and even when I’m not enough– that’s okay, too.

And when I drove up to visit my family, I had scribbled directions. They had only moved a block away from their old home– and I had the route to that old home memorized. But I wasn’t sure exactly about this one, so I Googled directions. And that new route took me completely out of the way– really far. I had the direction written down, but I was curious how close I was getting, so I plugged in directions on my Google app– and it re-routed me again completely.

Then my phone’s battery died. And my car charger is broken.

I was alone, with no phone battery, past 9 p.m. in a strange area near Chicago– on the freeway.

I just pulled over, took a deep breath, and circled around back to where I had been familiar. I asked God for help.

Let me just clarify– I have NO SENSE of direction. None.

Part of me wanted to go home, but I’d already driven so far and honestly getting home would have been more difficult. I would have no idea how to to that. The only thing to do was keep going and trust myself. Trust Him.

I stopped at two gas stations.

And when I recognized the intersection a block away from their old home, I turned there, and recognized one of the streets on my original directions list. I just slowed down and — EUREKA! I found their street.

It was dark. I couldn’t see any of the house numbers. In fact, I had written the WRONG house number, because the only house with that number was dark.

I was stuck in this narrow cul-de-sac, and all the cars were parked facing the other direction. I had to drive backwards, but I decided, feck it! I’m going park here because it’s open– even if it’s the wrong way!

And I ventured across the street, drawn to this one house because it was bright inside and I saw a painting that I thought I recognized from their old home. My friend had painted it herself. Then in the kitchen I saw a dry erase board with their son’s name written on it.

And seconds later, my other friend– her husband– came outside from the backyard and saw me!

“You’re HERE!” he said, incredulous. He gave me a hug, and I went back and joined the party.

For 2.5 hours, I got to enjoy my friends, and then I made it home without incident . Even though they had been up since 6 a.m. and have two children– and had already endured a 10-hour party, they stayed up to talk with me. And they did it with joy.

THAT is family.

And all this happened despite my having terrible new directions, and my getting lost precisely at the moment my phone battery died and I didn’t have a car charger. I have no sense of direction, but I somehow found it on my own in remarkably short order– even though I had written down the wrong house number– and my friend magically appeared to confirm the correct house I had gravitated toward because I recognized a painting in their living room.

TELL me that’s not God.

What an incredible day.

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