In the midst of this thought process our family had a great opportunity to get away for a couple of days. The kids were on break from school for the week and Brooke and I had been saving up for a chance to be able to get the family out of town. On recommendation from a friend we settled on renting a little guest cottage on an off the beaten path farm about 2.5 hours outside Cape Town. A brilliant working farm of about 2,000 acres that has sheep, cattle, chickens, olive groves, vineyards and is set up to house a couple of guests looking for a quiet out the way place to unwind. It was open space that the kids could freely ride their bikes wherever and whenever and a place that they could enjoy the normal farm life activities.
We had just pulled back onto paved road when I noticed a car behind me and one that was starting to speed up quickly. Soon I heard their car horn blaring and immediately began to think they were trying to warn me about a tire about to blow or something falling out of my truck. As I began to slow a little I then heard someone from the other car screaming and when I looked I saw someone hanging halfway out of it. As the car continued to speed by I looked at this screaming person and thought to myself, “That guy looks just like Joey.” Joey being our close friend, fellow BBC missionary, Living Hope volunteer and neighbor in Cape Town. I felt like Clark W. Griswald in Christmas Vacation when he said, “If I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now”. Joey was with a group from Living Hope that had been on a field trip that day visiting a farm to learn from their setup for the agricultural training platform. As Brooke and sat there with our mouths open trying to process what we just saw we kept repeating, “What are the odds that just happened?”. What are the odds that 2.5 hours outside our normal area, in the middle of nowhere, without either of us knowing the others schedule, we would end up as the only two cars on the same country road at the same time for this encounter to occur. The magnitude of this kept haunting me for the following hours to come. “What are the chances of that happening?” In the five hours that we had been running around that day if either of our schedules had been 30 seconds adjusted in any direction that encounter wouldn’t have happened. That’s when the next weird thing happened. I heard God.
Now some of you probably think it is hokey to say you heard God and some of you probably have your own experiences to relate. Did I say it was weird because God doesn’t generally talk to people; no. Did I say it was weird because I haven’t truly felt God speak so clearly to me; yes. In this incident I didn’t hear an audible voice. I didn’t see any visions or white lights. I wasn’t visited by an angel or have a sheep walk up and start to talk to me. No, I just felt the Holy Spirit move and I heard God as he communicated to me “Tate, I can put anything, anywhere and anytime I want. No more is it a challenge for me to put you where I want you when I am done with you in South Africa than is it a challenge for me to put you and Joey on the same road at the same time in the middle of nowhere.”
You see the issues I was having as I tried to envision what the transition back will look like is because I was trying to envision it in ways that gave me back control of it based on my wants, my needs, my desires, my comforts and my self-interest. You would think this would be a lesson I would have learned by now as having control didn’t serve me well in the past and I am certain wouldn’t serve me well in the future. Proverbs 19:21 directs us well when it states “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
My prayer is that we are all open to God speaking into our lives. The ability to hear what He is saying is made possible through a relationship with him and through one in which we commit the time and effort needed to get to know his voice. May we listen well, may we listen intently and may we let his purpose prevail in our lives.