Before Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, God had to give him a pep-talk. Joshua 1:9 was a part of that pep -talk and was important to us as Helen and I were riding our bikes from San Diego to our home in Melbourne Beach, Florida in the spring of 2001. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”. (ESV)
In West Texas we needed strength and courage. We had covered over 1300 miles since leaving San Diego, but still had 1800 miles in front of us. Injury or illness was something that would bring our adventure to an end. While we had a goal of riding all the way across the North American continent, it wasn’t worth sacrificing our health to achieve it. Here in West Texas Helen’s right eye was almost swollen shut and looked badly infected. At this time we needed the Lord’s help and He provided it.
We rolled into the town of Anson about noon on Sunday. This put us about 30 miles north of Abilene where we hoped to find an eye specialist to treat Helen and let us know if our adventure would continue or we should pack for a flight home and treatments to save her eye. Even though we had plenty of time to ride to Abilene that afternoon, we decided to spend the night in Anson, leave early Monday morning and get to Abilene after rush hour. On the map, Abilene looked large enough to have a morning rush hour and that was something to avoid on bikes.
The motel in Anson was right across the street from the local Dairy Queen. The motel rooms were not yet ready for us to move in, so while housekeeping cleaned our room we went to the Dairy Queen for lunch.
Wearing our neon yellow biking jerseys and biking shorts, we stood out in the Sunday lunch crowd at the DQ. As you can imagine, a couple of “oldsters” dressed the way we were got a lot of attention from the more properly dressed who had just come from church. We were used to the stares after being on the road for over a month. Our experience was that sooner or later someone in the restaurant would finally become more curious than they could stand and would ask us what we were doing. We enjoyed telling about our adventure and usually ended up being treated like celebrities before we left.
The people at the Anson DQ were more restrained than any we had previously met. Finally, a couple with an older man stopped to ask us the question as they were preparing to leave. They were very interested in our adventure. In fact, one summer while in school, Rick told us that he had ridden a bike from Maine to Abilene. We traded stories and were glad they had asked the question. As they were saying good-byes, Rick asked where we were going from Anson. I then told him about Helen’s eye, and how we had stopped at a walk-in clinic a few days earlier. The prescription that she had been given at the clinic seemed to be making the eye worse, and our plan was to go to Abilene to find an eye specialist. When he heard this, I noticed a startled look on his face as he glanced over at his wife. He then took out a business card and wrote something on the back of it.
“This is the name of the best eye doctor in Abilene. He was my college roommate. Call this number and tell them I told you to call and that you need to see the doctor as soon as possible. They’ll take care of you.” Rick said.
With that Rick, his wife, and his father walked out of the DQ. Helen and I were a little skeptical. What were the odds that the only person we talked with in the town of Anson really knew the phone number of the best eye doctor in Abilene? We decided that we’d go along with Rick since we didn’t have anything to lose and if it didn’t pan out we’d be back to our first plan of using the Abilene yellow pages.
We got into Abilene a little before 9 a.m. After coffee at McDonald’s I called the number Rick had given us. It was the right number. The person at the eye clinic who I talked with told me all the doctor’s appointments were full, but to come down to the clinic as soon as possible and they would work Helen in. Of course, the directions I was given would have been the ones given to someone driving a car, but they worked. We hopped on the freeway and headed south with the auto traffic to the exit I’d been told to take. We located the clinic and Helen was seen almost immediately. Perhaps they didn’t want people dressed like us sitting in the waiting room.
The doctor at the clinic determined that the prescription from the other doctor was not only wrong, but was adding to her problem. He gave her a prescription that was what she really needed and we were out of the office by about 11:00.
The staff at the clinic had been very interested in Helen and I’m afraid she kept them from other patients as she told stories about our adventure. A pharmaceutical representative who was there even followed her out to the parking lot where I was guarding our equipment and asked to see the prescription. He then went to his car and returned with a small box of samples saying that he didn’t want us to have to ride around getting a prescription filled.
Riding to a motel was a little tricky with a dilated eye, but we made it and spent the afternoon resting the eye and nursing Helen with the new, correct medicine. We also had a chance to talk about the experience and how we now knew how the Lord our God was with us. He was sending people to help us and look out for us.
We didn’t need to stop in Anson that Sunday. There was plenty of time for us to make it to Abilene. But we stopped in Anson at the same time Rick, his wife, and his father drove through town and stopped for lunch at the Dairy Queen. Rick was probably the only person in Anson that Sunday who had the phone number for the eye clinic in his head. He didn’t live in Anson and was passing through like us. He was the only person we talked to in the town and the only person we had told about the eye problem. This was not by chance. The Lord our God wanted to put us in a position where we could not depend on ourselves and he wanted to get us out of our comfort zone. Why was He doing this? We didn’t know what His plan was, but from that point on we began noticing more God Sightings. And this wasn’t the end of our problems.
By the way, Helen’s eye got well fast when she was on the correct medicine.