The “Long” Walk

I exaggerate sometimes. In most cases, I exaggerate for the sake of telling a good story. I found that stories are far more engaging when they are repeated emphatically, with a stretch of the truth here and there. A story without these colorful embellishments is nothing more than a news story (depending on your view of the news).
I learned a good “Christian” trick from a professor that I loved in college. This lively professor told us incredible tales the way he wanted to tell them. After his story evoked our laughter, or horror, he would boldly say: “that was a lie.” I thought this was simply fantastic! I would always find such happiness in his fun stories. When he would correct his falsehood, I would only laugh. I never felt betrayed by his story. I learned that the reason for not feeling let down had to do with his careful choice of stories to embellish. He never stretched the truth when it was important.
I so badly want to share my story with you in an amusing way, with a conclusion of about 30 “just kidding”s. However, I think I would do more harm than good in this case. The trick that I learned from my professor may not be the best example to follow, but his timing WAS a great example. I’ve learned that I should never stretch the truth of stories that are important.
In the case of my “long” walk, I must be clear that I am only speaking about .7 miles. This is the distance between my apartment and the school that I teach at. That’s only .3 miles less than the distance between my house and my last place of employment, in the US. How many times did I walk to work then? Less than 5 times. I walk to and from work every day now and laugh about how dumb it was that I used to drive that short distance.
When I first arrived in Germany, this school year, I found this walk to be refreshing. I loved to take in the site of the small, beautiful town that I live in and breathe in the sweet German air, like the waft of fresh cooked bacon. After the first week, however, I began to miss the bike that I had last year. I was able to get to school in 3 minutes and return home in 5 minutes. It now takes me about 4 times that amount of time. During the first few weeks, I found myself arriving everywhere about 10 minute late. I was underestimating my travel time. After this experience, I started leaving my home much earlier. I learned to enjoy things like music and coffee on the way to school. Now I am back to arriving late to work. I rush out the door in the exact moment that I need to leave, in order to arrive for the first school bell. I open the door to the students who have been patiently waiting and brush the stress sweat from my brow. I start my day a little grumpy, from being rushed.
There have been, however, 6 exceptions on days when I have left my house late. 2 of these exceptions were times that people stopped to pick me and my roommate up on the way to school. I don’t believe that we were late, but the gesture was very kind nonetheless. The other 4 exceptions are what I have spent this entire time prefacing. On these 4 days, I had specifically prayed for a ride to school. My prayers were answered so specifically. I felt that my truthfully detailed story may be encouraging to others.
The first prayer for a ride came from a conversation with The Lord. As I walked away from my building, I realized that it was Gelbesack (recycling) day and that I had failed to put ours by the curb. I was torn. I knew that I should go back and put the bags out, since these bags are only picked up about once a month. Yet, I was late for school. I kept walking, until I felt too guilty to continue. I stopped on the sidewalk. It was then that I heard The Lord promise to provide a ride if I showed love to my roommate by going back to take care of this matter. Unsure, I turned and headed back to our building. Immediately, my friend Chris appeared and offered me a ride to school. God provided, as He promised that He would.
The second prayer for a ride did not come on a day that was late. It came on a day that I had a lot of bags to carry to school. This time, I quietly prayed for a ride. It was more like a small wish than a confident prayer. Again, Chris showed up. It is important to know that he does not live near me. My route is not on his way at all. I shared my answers to prayer with him and we rejoiced together.
The third time I prayed, I was most certainly running late. I prayed quite confidently. I felt sure that God would answer my prayer. It was in that thought that I turned and saw the car Chris drives, parked at the bakery. I thought to myself, “that’s not a real answer to prayer. I just saw his car. My prayer was probably prompted by that fact. That doesn’t count.” For some reason, I felt disappointed by the revealing of why Chris had been in my path the other two times. I still felt a reassurance that God would provide a ride, but I was no longer excited about the “answer to prayer.” It was at that moment that our school director and his wife turned the corner and asked me if I wanted a ride. I have NEVER seen them drive my way to school. Again, God provided.
Today God provided the fourth answer to my prayer for a ride. I admit that I prayed cautiously. Sometimes I treat prayer like a scratch off ticket. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. In the case of my grandmother, you are more often just glad to play. The experience is enough. Similarly, I prayed with the expectation that I probably wouldn’t get the answer that I wanted, since I had received a positive answer the three times before. Unlike my grandmother, I wasn’t in it for the experience. I wanted another positive answer, but I was afraid that I may break my “winning” streak. About a minute after my prayer, another co-worker showed up with the offer for a ride to school. This man is indeed on my route to school. However, he was on his way to running another errand before school. He dropped me off and went on his way. God provided.
These 4 situations are not significant answers to prayers. They probably don’t convince atheists around the world to believe in a god. I am merely taking the time to be thankful for these small, and even humorous, answers to prayer. I am sure I would repeat this story to you more emphatically, with hand gestures and fun facial expressions, in person. For now, I hope it just brings a smile to your face and encourages you to re-tell your own stories of God’s faithfulness. They are good enough to stand on their own, without exaggeration.

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