The decision was made. My sister, Ann, and I would wait one more year to go and spend a year in California. It had been a desire, since childhood, to go from North Carolina’s frequent rain to the land of sunshine, and to meet Doris Day, whose movies had helped us through a difficult childhood. We wanted to thank her. We had made one trip to visit our mother’s college roommate and her husband, Virginia and Wes Idol, and, in a week, had seen the best of Los Angeles, making us even more determined to spend a year, getting it out of our systems before we settled down and got married.
I drove from Ann’s Chapel Hill apartment to my Charlotte apartment, where I was a teacher, without the relief that I usually felt for a decision having been made. Opening the weekend mail, I found a letter from Virginia. She said the words that changed our lives: “Your daddy and your grandmother are able to care for themselves now (Our mother had died when I was 19.), and that may not always be the case. If you’re ever coming, we think this summer would be a very good time.” I said, “THANK YOU, LORD!” and called Ann to tell her that we were going “this summer”! It was just the sign that we needed, having been praying for some time for right decisions. Ann was 23; I was 26. Our family showed some concern, but only a few of the townspeople tried to talk us out of it. (Monroe was a small town.) We were certain that we were in God’s plan.
If we hadn’t been certain before we left, we surely were, when our car (Ann’s new Saab) broke down in the early morning hours, on the border of Arizona/New Mexico, and the only way we had to get it fixed was to find a flat-bed truck to take us into the nearest big city. We prayed and read and waited, as the trucks came and went. We were even told about the square dance, at the nearby tiny town, that night, as the border agents figured we’d still be there.
But prayers were answered, when a man, whose wife was traveling with him, as she sometimes did in the summer, came through, empty, because his load in Dallas wasn’t ready, and he had a pick-up in L. A.! We were next to railroad tracks, and two boards were found on which the driver drove that Saab onto the truck. (We were all praying silently!)
With one of us in the bed behind the seat, the other between the driver and his wife, and their Catholic cross dangling on the rear view mirror, we set out for an all-night drive to L. A.. The driver had no license to haul in California, yet. (He was from Minnesota and was planning to get one before picking up the L.A. load.) So he stopped at every truck stop to learn which weights were closed overnight. We made it into L. A. on the day originally planned, and a call to Wes, who owned two steak houses in down-town, directed the driver to an off-load area of the train station, where Wes met us. Were we following the Lord? Absolutely. Was He with us every step of the way? He certainly was. (Oh, yes, I even met Doris Day, several years later. More important, I met Jim Brown!)
The Lord doesn’t always give us the easiest route. In fact, if we didn’t have to rely on Him, throughout our life-journey, we would think we didn’t need Him. But, when we follow Him, life can be a wonder-filled adventure! As 2 Corinthians 2:14 tells us:
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.