“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD…” Psalm 37:23 (KJV)
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”
Isaiah 30:21 (KJV)
Some people call it coincidence, while others say its fate, destiny, or a divine connection. I am always amazed when God gently whispers and tells me which way to turn next to find a delightful surprise or an old friend I had not seen in a long while. Sometimes His direction is as subtle as a thought like “take the next exit.” It makes me wonder how many times I didn’t listen to that “little voice inside my head or heart,” missed a clue to do just what was needed next and missed a blessing. Most often these signals from God happen on a day like any other day. It’s just that when I’m tuned it, that typical day often reveals an amazing turn of events.
This particular Thursday started off like most of my workdays. I was running late, taking longer than needed to sort through my clothes closet and couldn’t find that certain sweater. I asked myself, “Where was it? Didn’t I just see it yesterday morning? Why hadn’t I taken the time to re-organize this mess? Why couldn’t I find a few minutes to put some things back where they belonged and speed up my morning routine?”
As I was going through my litany of excuses, I noticed sitting on the shelf the black leather camera bag containing my auto-focus, 35mm Minolta camera. “What a waste of good camera equipment. I don’t use it any longer,” I thought. It had been probably a year since I’d used that camera. I’d been like most people and kept up with the technology craze by recently purchasing a digital camera.
Later in the day while driving home from work, I was trying to decide whether or not to participate in my several times a week ritual – stopping at the grocery store. Today a stop was needed; I had to pick up cat treats or not go home, however, it was just too much trouble. My stress-fractured foot was still sore and hobbling through that big store with a cane, then getting back to the car with packages in cold weather was just more than I wanted to endure. So I reasoned my “needed” items weren’t critical and could wait until tomorrow. I would just have to make a deal with my four cats to get into the house.
What’s that old saying, “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today?” Seems God operates on that plan too. As I continued driving, I kept telling myself that I should just stop and get my shopping done. Just do it! Then I realized everything I needed from the grocery store could be purchased at the drug store about a block from my house. I could park at the door and maneuver faster through the much smaller store. I could also leave my cane in the car and just hobble. The decision was made.
I stopped at the drug store, found the items I needed and quickly made my way to the cash register. As I was paying for them, I spotted my former neighbor about to exit the store. Carolyn had been a dear friend since the day I moved to town over 4 years ago. She’s quite a fascinating, retired lady, the county historian and a part-time writer for the local newspaper. I called out a greeting to Carolyn and she made her way over to me.
As Carolyn walked over I noticed she wasn’t her normal cheerful self. So I asked, “How are you doing?” Her response, “Not too well. I had a crown fall out on Tuesday, then today I dropped my $600 camera and it exploded at the seams - totaled it!” What could I say to that? Yet having no idea why, I said, “Sounds like God’s going to do something.” We chuckled, more out of disbelief than faith, chatted for a few more minutes and then we headed out to our cars to leave.
I was just about to pull out of the parking lot when the thought flashed through my mind of my unused camera sitting on my closet shelf. Would I ever use it again? Was I supposed to offer it to her? Should I sell it to her - for how much, maybe $200? These questions continued to develop as I shot up a quick prayer for direction. I jumped out of my car, ran back to Carolyn’s car, mentioned that I had an available camera she could use and that I’d call her when I got home to discuss it.
My one hesitation in making an offer so quickly was that my dad had given me this camera and I didn’t want to just give it away without first talking with him. Driving the mile home, I once again asked God for clear direction in this matter. I called my dad, told him the story of Carolyn’s plight and asked if he would be comfortable if I loaned, gave or sold this camera to her. “Certainly” was his response. It “was a waste of good camera equipment just sitting on the shelf. You just bought that digital camera and will probably never use the Minolta again. What if you offered to let her try it out and if it met her needs, and then offer to sale it for $200.” I sat with the phone in my hand amazed. He said almost word for word what I had been thinking a few minutes earlier. I had my direction.
Quickly I telephoned Carolyn with the offer. She said she would need a new camera fairly soon as her next newspaper assignment coming up in just two days. Due to her failing eyesight, she had just one question, “Is it auto-focus?” She was delighted when I said it was. As an afterthought I mentioned that I had an extra camera bag and asked if she needed one. “No, I should have one somewhere” she responded. We ended the conversation with her stating she’d like to “chew on the idea” and would call me back the next day.
The next morning she called and expressed her interest in the camera. I offered to sell it to her for $200. She quickly replied, “If you’ll throw in the camera bag, you’ve got a deal.” We met for dinner later that evening to make the trade. We discussed the events of the past 24-hours as we compared our individual stories leading up to that moment in the drug store. We both knew God had planned our steps, causing us to both be at the right place at the right time. We were delighted to think each picture she took for a story would be a reminder of how God cares about our every step – even the photographs we take.