Sometimes life leads us into unexpected surprises. A few years ago, God used my grief journey to help support and comfort a family in our church I hadn’t even met yet! Her daughter died unexpectedly and then two months later her son-in-law passed as well, leaving a young son in their care. For some reason a God friendship connection was made and this friendship has led to many adventures.
Reading in Acts we see Paul making connections with many people. Some provided shelter, food and friendship. One of these unexpected connections was Paul meeting Timothy, a young man from Lystra. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. Timothy was well thought of by his believers in Lystran and Iconium, so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey. (Acts 16:1,2) This meeting changed Timothy’s life. His mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois laid a great foundation of faith in this young man’s life. They had prepared him for this next chapter of his life. I am sure Eunice and Lois were excited and honored that this great Apostle wanted this young man to travel with them, but there might have been some concern for him as well.
Timothy then faced a big decision. Paul asked him to undergo circumcision. In fact, Paul arranged for it to take place! What a choice for a young man to have to make. Timothy submitted to decision which shows a lot about his character. He was willing to undergo temporary discomfort to join Paul on this journey.
Gary is a naval officer. They received orders to Monterrey, CA so Gary could pursue his master’s degree in meteorology and climatology. One day Kathy asked me if I would like to go with them on their trip down. I sort of laughed, then the Holy Spirit whispered, “she’s serious, and I want you to go!”. I could have said no, I don’t want to take that much time away from my Washington life, but in obedience I said, yes. So off we went. We made some memorable moments and the Lord showed me His purpose in coming along. We shared many great God conversations along the journey and I was able to help them unpack a bit. I flew home with Kathy saying, “you have to come back when we are settled and then we can have some fun experiencing the area”.
Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. So churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day. Traveling from town to town sounds exciting, until you do it! Darryl and I used to travel around New England, usually about three weeks at a time. Sometimes I ended up thinking about the trips by the number of different beds we slept in! We experienced God’s blessing, grace and mercy–but eventually God led us to buy a home in Connecticut so we would have a closer place to come home too. Pray for any traveling evangelists you know. Treat them kindly, it is not easy. The upside is greater fellowship and opportunity to really get to know the people you are working with. I am grateful for every person who opened their home to us both here in the US, the UK and Ghana!
Timothy seems to blend in to the traveling troop for a while. Kathy and I stayed in touch via text and our worlds each kept going. I know Timothy was learning, growing and becoming wiser in the ways of the Lord. Traveling with people you learn much about them. God used the time I am sure for great God conversations, questions and answers and I am sure simply the blessing of shared experiences as they watched God grow the believers as they journeyed together.
Kathy came close to dying this year. God, along with the doctors intervened and she is getting stronger and stronger. After a serious bout of pneumonia she called and she mentioned taking a cruise to Alaska as being on her bucket list–would I like to come along! I said something like, that may be fun–but not really thinking it would happen! 6 weeks later I was on an Alaskan cruise with them! Sharing more experiences, this set me up to share Jesus with different people on the ship. Paul called Timothy his son. They call me family. It is a good God thing. Follow the Holy Spirit in His leading and you can meet some very amazing people!