MINISTERIAL MUSINGS: "Follow Me" John Tamilio III (JT3)

I had lunch with a parishioner in Berea today. On the way back to the office, I stopped for gas and asked the cashier, “What is the quickest way to get to Route 71?” As she looked into the distance and scratched her head, a scruffy man in line behind me began giving me directions. “What you want to do is to keep going down this main road here and turn left at the lights. After that, you want to turn…”

Now keep something in mind. If directions require more than two turns, I get lost. You might as well give them to me in another language. I need to write them down at that point. So, I asked the cashier for a piece of scrap paper, but before she even moved the man in line said, “I’m actually headin’ that way. Follow me.”

He got in his gray mini-van and I followed close behind. Somehow, I got in the wrong lane when we approached the first major intersection. I was in the “turn right” lane; he was in the left lane. (Remember: JT3 = not good with directions.) He beeped his horn, rolled down his window, and called to me, “Hey, you’re going the wrong way. Cut in front of me and I’ll swing around. Just follow me. Trust me.”

We drove several miles. We took a right, then another left. He made sure that I was behind him the entire time. At one point, when we hit a multilane road and I was trailing a few car lengths, he rolled down his window again and signaled for me to keep going straight. He brought me right to Route 71 and he turned right to catch Route 480. As our paths forked, he rolled down his window again and continued to wave until he was out of sight. I kept waving, too. I could feel the smile on his face. I am sure it matched the one on mine.

I met an angel today.

Was he wearing wings? No — just a dirty, old baseball hat and a three-day old beard. But just the same, he went far beyond where most people would venture to guide a stranger. Something tells me that the road he took was not where he was actually heading. He probably had to double-back to get to where he was going.

God guides us on our respective journeys as well. God points the way, even when we feel we need to veer off in another direction. God is patient. God is smiling. Through Christ, God simply says, “Follow me.”

Sometimes it is hard to trust when we cannot see the road ahead or where God is pointing. It is during such times that we either want the directions written down in black-and-white or we want to forge our own trails. It is also during those times that we need to pause…breathe deep…and look closer — look to truly see where God is leading us. Like the angel who guided me today, God says, “Just follow me. Trust me.”

Keep your eyes open when you lose your way, my friends. I am sure that God will send you an angel, too.

John Tamilio III is the Senior Pastor of Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in the Tremont neighborhood. A musician and poet, JT3 is also the Religion Columnist for The Lakewood Observer. He lives in Lakewood with his wife and their three children.
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Volume 6, Issue 10, Posted 8:25 AM, 05.19.2010