Sam’s Club, God, and an Angel from FSU

God is always at work, and he loves us deeply.  That hit home for me more than ever yesterday.  And, at Sam’s Club, of all places!

My husband, Rob, and I went there to get two tires replaced on our well-traveled (translation:  worn out!) van.  We’re in Pensacola right now.  Rob’s brother, Doug, had a surfing accident on Saturday.  He is in critical condition, and the outlook is not good.

Our reason for visiting Pensacola was definitely not one we would have chosen, and the last thing we wanted to be focusing on was vehicle maintenance.  Life happens, though – all those events and circumstances and situations we don’t always want or expect to happen – and, so our aimless tour of Sam’s began.  

One aisle.  Two aisles.  Slowly walking.  Not talking.  Just thinking and praying. Eventually, we found our way to the clothing section.  Neither of us needed any clothes but, somehow, holding up shirts, folding them, and then putting them back on the table seemed like a good way to pass the time.

“So, is that FSU or Alabama?”, a voice said.  The man was pointing at the red stadium seat Rob was holding.  “We’re going to say it’s Alabama!”, I answered.  The man winced.  His son was a student at FSU.  Our daughter is a student at Alabama.  I know.  I know.  It may be shocking, but we were all able to look past the rivalry (no heated exchange or fist fights next to the Nautica shirt table…), and the pleasantries continued.

FSU and Bama play in Atlanta next weekend.  That’s where we live.  “Are you going to the game?”.  Laughter.  Last time we checked, we hadn’t won the lottery!  Even if tickets were still available, do you know how much they’d cost?!  Um.  Just.  No.

“So, why are you in Pensacola?”  Long pause.  I could see Rob was searching for a hint of crazy town in this guy (I was, too!), but he seemed nice enough.  Rob took a deep breath, let out a huge sigh, and then told him about Doug.

The man listened intently.  He expressed his sadness and concern.  Like Doug, he too, was 59.  He, too, enjoyed surfing.  He, too, was battling his own unexpected and unwanted challenges with two separate cancer diagnoses and surgeries.  Yes.  Life happens – all those events and circumstances and situations we don’t always want or expect to happen.

“This reminds me of that verse in James…”

“Consider it pure joy!”, I interrupted him.

The man smiled.  Rob and I have been studying that verse with our Sunday morning Bible study class.  

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.        James 1:2-4 (NIV)

And, that’s when I knew.  This wasn’t just your everyday-in-the-clothing-section-of-Sam’s conversation. This was God letting us know – by way of a 59-year-old FSU fan dressed in a 30A hat, t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, no less! – that He is ALWAYS working.

God is ALWAYS with us.  In the good times.  In the bad times.  We may not understand the WHY behind what is happening, but he wants us to trust that no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay.  No matter what happens, Doug is going to be okay.

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