Billings - My New Home - Part 2
Billings – My New Home - Part Two
(For Part One, click on previous day)
On Saturday morning, I awoke, determined to have a better attitude. After all, God had clearly directed the previous two days. Most likely, He was still in charge and running the universe. Surely, I’d get everything done and be on the road by Sunday afternoon. Yeah, right -- God’s ways are mysterious.
1 Cor. 2:9
No one's ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it — What God has arranged for those who love him. (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
I began breakfast preparations by opening the cabinet under the sink. To my dismay, I realized the pots and pans were full of water. “The sink is leaking,” I groaned aloud to Belle and/or God. God, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I asked for help.
Frantically, I began dialing, trying to find an RV service center that would fix a leaky sink on Saturday. “I’m a female traveling alone and I can’t possibly fix this sink,” I begged the woman who answered the first call I made.
“You shouldn’t be traveling alone,” she scolded as she offered me a repair date for late September.
The second company suggested I drive 90 miles to another city who might be able to help me next week.
The third call offered the following Wednesday. By the time I got Billings RV, I was thrilled with a Monday morning appointment. I walked over to the KOA office and extended my stay for a fourth night.
“Bob, I’m going to have to live here,” I whined. “God isn’t going to let me leave. It gets cold in the winter. In fact, it’s too cold now. I’m wearing sweat pants and still freezing. Will you come visit me in Billings?” So much for my improved attitude.
By the time I played with the sink, called RV dealers, and talked to Bob, it was noon and I left the KOA campground in search of the medical clinic. Thankfully, I found it right away. While waiting to hear my name, I had a conversation about God with a rough and tough female truck driver and a dainty delicate matching mother and daughter.
“What did you do to your foot?” I asked the truck driver.
“Broke it jumping from my truck.”
“Don’t do that again,” I suggested. She grinned, showing missing teeth.
The truck drive shared her experiences with being treated for co-dependency by a local residential treatment center. “I love that place,” she said. “I feel like I’m home when I go there.” When we talked about God and church, she rolled her eyes, clearly cynical.
The matching blond haired blue-eyed mother and daughter were devout Lutherans. “How old are you?” I asked the daughter.
“Fifteen,” she answered.
“You don’t look like you feel well.”
“I think I have the flue.”
I made a mental note to wash my hands and to stop breathing. I turned to the truck driver and said, “At least I can’t catch what you have.”
I turned to the mom and said, “Your daughter is beautiful.”
The mother beamed. “She’s as good as she is beautiful.”
“What’s the secret to your being so good?” I asked the drooping daughter.
“Adults watch me all the time,” she said dryly.
The mom, who had her arm around her daughter, laughed and said, “I was hoping she would say God and her church.”
The daughter smiled and sat up a little straighter. “I guess that’s the real reason but the adults watching me helps. I’m best friends with my youth minister and she’s had a strong influence on my life.” We talked about how to become a Christian and how wonderful it was to have a relationship with Christ. I could only hope and pray the truck driver was being influenced as she listened.
When they called my name, I hobbled in. “I see you have a limp. Give me your pain level on a scale of 1-10,” said the nurse taking my vitals.
“I guess it’s a 6,” I answered, hoping this was bad enough to get me taken seriously. It must have been, because they wheeled me to the hospital next door for an x-ray. Our student insurance isn’t great away from the University of Florida and I groaned as I envisioned the rising costs.
“I can walk,” I insisted, embarrassed by being in a wheelchair. “I climbed a hill yesterday to see Yellowstone River.” They ignored me and suddenly I knew how Uncle Bobby feels when I try to get him to use a wheel chair on our family trips.
On the ride to the hospital, I had a lovely discussion about God and church with the other patient being wheeled over and the two attendants pushing us. I really wanted pictures but had left the camera in Happy.
The x-ray results showed the anticipated bone spur. “It’s hook shaped and pricking the tendons,” the doctor offered. “It must be painful. Each prick is inflaming the tendons that work your toes.” She drew a stick figure that looked nothing like my foot.
“A hook is exactly what this feels like,” I said. “How can I get rid of it?”
“You don’t. There’s surgery but it’s controversial about how helpful it is.”
This wasn’t sounding good, I thought.
“What we want to do is to treat the inflammation. Sometimes the pain goes away and never comes back.”
Ok, this is sounding better.
“But the bone spur stays?”
She nodded. “You have to wear good shoes. No more high heels.”
I laughed. “I wouldn’t dream of wearing heels. The real question is about my flip flops.”
She shook her head to the flip-flops. “I’d recommend these heal pads and a quick 5 day blast of Prednisone pills. When you get home, see an orthopedic doctor.”
“What about a cortisone shot in the foot,” I argued, wanting a quicker solution. “My mother had guessed this was a bone spur and suggested a shot.” Everyone knows you’re supposed to listen to your mother.
“Well,” the doctor said. “I could give you a shot in the foot but I warn you, it’s the most painful injection you can get. Don’t let me discourage you because the shots help, but if it were me, I’d go to an orthopedic doctor who really knows what they’re doing. We give them here but the patients always seem to be in agony.”
Hmm, I thought. I won’t be getting shots here. I thanked her for her honesty and took the prescription. Later, as I read the warning label about the possible side effects of this drug (which could occur for up to a year after taking it), I wondered about this decision.
Next was the hunt for a pharmacy, hair salon, and doggie spa. A Wal * Mart Super Center was across the street from PetSmart. Wal * Mart had a pharmacy and a hair salon. Why not, I thought. After all, Wal * Mart Super Centers are my favorite store.
I put my name on a list and walked across the large store to the pharmacy. I looked longingly at the electric grocery cart but pride got in the way.
Let not the foot of pride come upon me. NASU
When I got back to the hair salon, they were ready for me and I was ready to sit down.
Not completely trusting the hippie who had recommended Faith Chapel, I asked the hairdresser about possible churches. “I belong to a wonderful church,” she said. “I haven’t been for a while but I love it. The name of it is Faith Chapel and it’s right up the street.”
“You’re the second person to recommend that church to me. Is it Christian?”
“I think of it as Christian,” she said. “It’s non-denominational so it’s not Lutheran or Catholic but I still think it’s Christian.”
“Do they believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and use the Bible?”
“Yes,” she said. As she worked on my hair, I tried to talk about why she wasn’t going to church. She didn’t really want to talk and mumbled something about working on Sundays.
She was much more comfortable talking about her family. She’s a single mother of three children. Her oldest child, age 11, is fathered by a man who had no interest in being a father. Her younger children are 2 and 6 months. “They’re the light of my life,” she said.
The father of her 2 younger children is completely disabled and stays at home with the children while she works. She supports the 5of them. “He’s my fiancé,” she said, a little defensively. “We’re eventually going to get married. No time soon but when the time’s right.”
I resisted saying aloud, So the right time isn’t before you have children with someone? Ashamed of my thoughts, I knew I was no good to God in a judgmental frame of mind.
I whispered a prayer and continued. By the time I left, she’d reluctantly admitted that she no longer worked on Sunday and maybe she could start going back to church. “But I do go sometimes on Wednesday night,” she added.
On the way back to the campground, Belle and I found Faith Chapel. Disappointed that they didn’t also offer a Sunday School, I stopped back by the KOA office and asked about another church recommendation.
The young woman at the counter said, “I’d invite you to my church but it only has old people and I wouldn’t recommend it. My husband doesn’t like it.”
I looked a little startled so she explained. “I’ve gone there all my life. I looked around last Sunday and realized that in a few short years, no one would be alive to worship there. My friend keeps trying to get me to visit Faith Chapel but I haven’t been yet. I hear it’s wonderful. You should try it.”
I went to laughing. “Usually I listen to God when I hear something twice. Now I’ve had Faith Chapel recommended to me 3 times. I guess I’m going to Faith Chapel tomorrow. It sounds like you should try it as well. How long have you been married?”
“Three months,” she said. Another newlywed just waiting for advice.
“Please find a church your husband likes,” I begged. “If he doesn’t like the church, he’ll stop going. If he doesn’t go to church, statistics say that your future children won’t go to church when they grow up. That means your grandchildren won’t learn about God.” She thanked me for my advice.
As I was leaving, I met a sweet Christian couple. “Where are you from?” the woman asked. I answered and told her a little about Pocket Full of Quarters.
“I have a testimony for you,” she said. “I’m a cancer survivor. My cancer was a 4 out of 5 and I wasn’t expected to live. People started praying and I’ve been cancer free for 2 years. Prayer is the answer to everything.” I left energized, knowing God had just reminded me that He was still in charge.
The next morning, I went to Faith Chapel. It was every bit as wonderful as was recommended. “Do you have a Bible Study?” I stubbornly asked.
“Not on Sunday morning. We have them during the week but our Sunday service is like a Bible Study. You’ll enjoy it.”
I walked inside the large beautiful winding new building. How intriguing, I thought as I realized I had two choices for where to worship. I could sit in their large “Living Room,” drinking a Latté from their coffee bar, and watch the service on the big screen television or I could go into the sanctuary. I chose the sanctuary.
I was a little late and walked in to a sanctuary filled with people praising God in song. I started singing as the usher showed me to a seat near the front. People greeted me as I sat down.
The sermon topic was “The Good Life.” What a treat. They gave me a sheet with blanks to fill in. As listened, I was enveloped with gratitude for the good life God had given me. The pastor was out of town and the guest speaker pointed out that there were seven parts to “The Good Live.”
1. Good God – Accept a God of grace.
My God of grace was still using me, in spite of my waning attitude. He is a good God!
When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive — right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ's Cross. (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
2. Good Disciplines – Become a spirit filled Christ follower.
I realized that in spite of my attitude, I had continued my spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation, Bible Study, and confession. I wasn’t a complete failure.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.).
3. Good Family – The Bible gives us the secret formula to having a good family. The speaker pointed out that these instructions are for us, regardless of how our family treats us back.
I thought about my wonderful family, so far away, and how much they had helped me just this weekend. God’s instructions work.
Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master. Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don't take advantage of them. Children, do what your parents tell you. This delights the Master to no end. Parents, don't come down too hard on your children or you'll crush their spirits. (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
4. Good Friends – The speaker said to initiate new relationships, to nurture old relationships, and to invest in young relationships.
I thought about new the people I was meeting, some of whom have been corresponding by e-mail. I remembered the many conversations during the week with my girlfriends. I mentally walked through the encouraging e-mails I’d received from friends everywhere.
Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
5. Good Service – Commit, serve, and share.
I committed to continue serving, even with a sore foot, and even if God kept me in Billings.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ — the Message — have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives — words, actions, whatever — be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
6. Good Stewardship – Do what it takes to sustain spiritual, physical, emotional, and financial health.
I looked down guiltily at the high-heeled flip-flops I was wearing. I committed to following the doctors instructions about my foot.
Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity.
And, oh, yes, tell Archippus, "Do your best in the job you received from the Master. Do your very best." (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
7. Good Works – Do good everywhere you go.
I limped out of the service, focused on ministry instead of the physical world. The leaky sink, galleys, budget brochure, and foot were in God’s hands.
Let every detail in your lives — words, actions, whatever — be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being Christian doesn't cover up bad work. (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
To find out if God ever let me leave Billings, read tomorrow’s story.