There and Back Again – A Pastor’s Tale

Today I drove a guy to Toledo.

Let’s just say I don’t always pick up people along the side of the road, especially if it means missing Small Group.

This time was different. I can’t really say why here, but if you ask me in person, I’ll explain. Either way, it was definitely a God-thing. 

Like many times people are looking for a ride, it started with “I need a ride just out of town.” Which became “ I need a ride to Maumee.” Which turned into “just the other side of Maumee.” Do you know what’s on the other side of Maumee?

Toledo.

That’s where he needed a ride to. I have to give him credit: he didn’t lie. Toledo is out of town and on the other side of Maumee.

Such is the way of things like this – give a mouse a cookie and all that. 

As it turns out, this guy was having a fight with his wife. He was running away to his life in Toledo and to all the “wonderful” things you can do in Toledo that are harder to do in Defiance.

(He was the type of guy who was hitching a ride, so I’ll let your imagination fill in the details.)

By the time we made it to Toledo, we had talked about marriage, God, and all kinds of theology and all in the most natural of ways. In fact, he brought up most of the subjects. You should hear his thoughts on tithing!

But my favorite part of our conversation had to do with marriage. 

He was running from his wife because they were fighting. I have to be honest, when Allyssa and I have fought; I’ve been tempted to get out of the house more than once. It’s easy to run away from fights. So I could relate. But his situation was slightly different. 

You see, he said he didn’t want to be around his wife when they were fighting because he didn’t want his daughter to see them fight. He was afraid his daughter would think fighting was what should be expected in a marriage. He wanted his daughter to expect more in a marriage. In some ways he was right. 

But I told him that seeing him walk away would also set the wrong precedent. I told him that she was bound to see them fight. What she needed was not to see him leave, but rather to see them work through it. Otherwise, how else was she going to learn what it looked like to work through issues? 

Deep in my heart, I knew why God had me give him a ride: I knew he needed to go back home and work through the issues with his wife. He shouldn’t be running to Toledo. We needed to turn the car around, but it needed to be his decision.

Well guess what happened?

Before we got to Toledo, he had decided he needed to make it right with his wife. So we basically turned around and came back to Defiance.

Some would be frustrated and think the trip was a waste of time. I drove him to Toledo to turn around and bring him back to where he started!? 

At an earlier point in my life—when I looked at ministry to the hurting as some kind project—I would have been frustrated and a little annoyed. But not this time. Instead, I think it was the most worthwhile two hours I’ve spent all week. In a world of $4 gas, I’d say it was well spent. 

It’s times like this that I am overwhelmed with joy being a disciple of Jesus.

My lesson for tonight: People aren’t projects, but if you want to love them, they almost always require some kind of adventure.


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