We were not planning to make those two stops on our trip. But we are deeply grateful for the blessings that came when we did.
I continue to be amazed not only at how generously God blesses His children, but also at how frequently blessings come when we are paying attention to the whisperings we may feel from His Holy Spirit.
Our trip was to be a quick overnighter, out and back, the kind of experience we give ourselves to celebrate special occasions like birthdays. We were going to learn more about an area in our region we had seldom visited.
On our way out, we turned off the road in one place that looked interesting and hiked through sagebrush, rocks, and ant hills out to a dry lake bed. It is the kind of scene we have passed by many times in our travels. This time we turned around and went back. We enjoyed the stark beauty of the desert on a clear, sunny fall day, and I got some beautiful photographs that will fit well in a project I’m working on.
That was only the beginning of our rewards.
On our return trip next day, we stopped at two small museums in a rural farm town. In one we delighted at seeing items we remembered from our childhood in small-town America. The other told the story of a shameful episode in our country’s past, the detainment of loyal Japanese-Americans in a desert camp during World War II.
As a result of pondering what we saw in these two places, I received an answer to prayers I had offered earlier for direction. As so often happens, the direction did not come in words of a command: “Do this, then this.” Instead, I received ideas on how to solve a dilemma that I have long had. This particular problem has very little to do with the exhibits in those museums, and yet, because of what I saw, ideas came to mind that help resolve the dilemma. I saw a practical way forward, and I received an assurance that this was my answer.
That was not the end.
We made one more unplanned stop on our way home, in a small, historic mining town. As a lark referring to my advancing age, we were taking pictures of “things older than Don.” My wife wanted a picture of me in front of an old pioneer cabin. A man at the service station next door hurried over to ask if we would like to go inside it. Then he invited us to tour some of the old mine sites in town with him. It turned out that he was the mayor, and he shared with us his dream of how to preserve some of the town’s history.
What he shared brought a fresh flow of ideas for me—thoughts that built on and dovetailed with the inspiration I had received at the museum two hours earlier. It became plain that these experiences were not coincidence. Our stops were perfectly timed; five minutes one way or the other, and we would have missed this opportunity.
My wife benefitted too. One of the mayor’s comments suggested a way forward with a project she has long wanted to develop. Moreover, as we finished our drive home, I received ideas on how I might be able to contribute to that mayor’s civic project, something it would be a privilege to do.
I know we were guided on that trip to receive answers we had asked for in prayer.
Some might scoff and say, “That was just coincidence, and your imagination.”
Some might say I’m boasting.
Scoffers deny themselves the opportunity to be taught by God, through whisperings of His Holy Spirit. Those whisperings are soft and subtle, but obedience brings rewards. Our Eternal Father is ever ready and willing to give us knowledge if we are willing to accept it. He will build on knowledge we have already gained, helping us learn lessons for eternity.
The answers that came to me were for questions I had not voiced to anyone but God. I have learned to recognize the sweet feeling of peace and assurance that comes with some of those answers. No, they are not my imagination.
As for boasting—what hypocrisy it would be! I am still a child in learning to walk by faith. Throughout much of my life, I have been a weak, headstrong person who did not listen to my Heavenly Father nearly as frequently as I should have. Perhaps I could have accomplished more—so much more—for my family and for others if I had listened better. I am ashamed that I have not been a better servant.
But I pray that for whatever life is left to me, I can continue learning to listen better. And if what I share now can help someone younger learn to listen sooner in life, then I am grateful I can help.