When God is Your Collaborator

rain market

I’m letting a smile be my umbrella–well that and this umbrella!

Now, I’m not saying that I’m perfect—far from it!  But on those days when I make the deliberate decision to cooperate with God and really do as His Word says, things always go better.

Take this morning, for example.  I started out by telling God, “I know that You already know all the people and things that are important to me.  So, instead, I want to hear from You, to know what’s on Your mind, and what’s important to You.”  Now, when you say something like that to God, expect to have your plans derailed.  But know this: even if your plans get derailed by God, it’s always because there’s something better.  You might not even know it until years down the road, but you can trust it because you can trust Him.

So I left the house with my list and some of the papers I knew that I would need along the way.  I opened my umbrella and walked to the tram stop for my first errand: buy Icelandic currency for my trip.  I had already gotten Danish Kroner, but the Icelandic money was not available when I got the Danish money.  Now it was available.

The tram pulled up within 30 seconds of when I arrived at the stop.  I always say that I have a tram/bus anointing, and arrive at just the right time.  Even if I have to wait, there is always a good (which is to say a God) reason.  On the tram, I realized that my transport pass was about to expire.  I took it out of my purse and looked at the date: tomorrow it expires!

Since I was going to the train station for the currency, I might as well take a swing by the transport office in the metro station and renew my pass.  But I will probably need a new picture for the new card, so I also planned to pop into a photo booth for passport pictures.

Then I heard an announcement on the tram’s PA system that there was going to be a public transportation strike tomorrow.  So I wrote a quick text message to Dimitri, just in case he was planning on going out tomorrow, he might be able to do it today instead.  But the message didn’t go through.  I checked and found that my credit was exactly zero.  So I added a stop by the phone store to buy credit for my phone.

When I arrived at the train station there was a miracle: nobody was in line at the currency exchange booth.  In all the years that I’ve been buying currencies there, this was the first time that there was nobody ahead of me, and no line.  But a man walked up just as the girl was starting to wait on me.  He was standing way too close, and it got on my nerves.  Then I noticed that he had money, a bill, in his hand—all he wanted was change.  So I stepped aside so that he could ask for change.  They refused him.  Apparently they don’t do a Euros-for-Euros exchange.  That was a moment when I could feel God smiling on me because rather than just get angry, I let the man go ahead of me.  A kindness to him hadn’t cost me anything (I’ve gotta remember that!).

After getting my money, I went into the metro, bought credit for the phone, sent Dimitri the message, got passport photos taken, and got a ticket for my turn to renew my transportation pass.  Again, there is usually 20 or more people ahead of you at the transportation office, but this time, there were only 2 ahead of me.  When my number was called, a girl rushed up to my window to muscle me out and jump ahead of me.  The man at the window saw the number ticket in my hand and understood what was going on.  He told her to go get a number from the machine by the door.  She didn’t understand, so I repeated his instruction to her in English, which apparently she did understand.  Again, all this was done without the usual temper flare and muttering under my breath about line jumpers.  And again, I felt God smile on me.

The man at the window told me to fill out a form, but I assured him that none of my details had changed.  Then he looked at the photos I had handed him.  He said, “I don’t need these.”  I told him that the only thing that had changed in the last year was the color of my hair.  He replied with a smile, “You look younger like this.”  This might be the first time ever that a transportation employee (besides the train driver—see The Train God) has even made a joke (or possibly flirted!) with me.

With the pass renewed, I had one last errand: the Post Office.  There were a couple of things that I needed to do there, and these were usually not fun errands.  But with the determination to enjoy the day and whatever God brings, I went to the Post Office with a different attitude than usual.  And even those Postal errands went off without a hitch—and a Postal Worker actually joked with me, too.

Finally it was time to head for home, but the rain had suddenly started to come down hard.  I made my way to the tram stop and found that my tram said 15 minutes, while the tram that stops a few blocks farther from the house was coming in 5 minutes.  So I got on the other tram, ready just to walk a little farther and enjoy one of the more pleasant streets in the whole city—the far end of my own street.

At the stop where the trams go in different directions (this one from my usual tram), just one stop from my home stop, I noticed only after the driver had shut the doors that my tram was being announced.  I looked behind our tram and saw that indeed, my usual tram was right behind us.  If I had hopped off then, I could catch my usual tram home and save the walk.  But the driver had already shut the doors and edged to the corner, ready to go.  Rather than beat on the door, insisting on being let off, I decided to just enjoy the walk anyway.  On the way to the next stop, where I would be getting off, I noticed a little mom and pop stationary shop.  Of all the things to love about Italy, my favorites are street markets and stationary shops.  Amazingly enough, this one was open right now—on a Monday morning.

So I got off the tram and walked back to where I had seen the stationary shop.  On the door was a sign about the importance of supporting the small neighborhood shops.  I couldn’t agree more.  Inside was a lively little woman.  She was eager to engage in conversation and very pleasant to talk and joke with.  She told me that she’s 77, which is my mom’s age.  I told her that she certainly looks like a very young 77.  She said that she owes it all to having a happy heart, which she indeed does seem to have.  As I made my purchase she said her first and only words of complaint.  She was suffering from back and neck pain.  So I told her that I would like to pray for her.  And I did.  As I opened my eyes after the prayer, I found that she had apparently been watching me the whole time.  She thanked me for the prayer, and we wished each other a nice day.

Then I was aware that this was what God had wanted to show me, why I had been lead to take the other tram: He had wanted me to meet Lucia and pray for her.

In the meantime, the rain had let up and I enjoyed that pleasant walk home from the far end of my street.  Now if only I could keep this attitude of cooperation with God whenever He comes in and wrecks my plans with blessings soaking me like rain from Heaven.  He never fails to amaze me with new discoveries of just how amazingly good He is.  God is good!

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