As I was driving home from work and a late lunch on Friday afternoon, I got a call from a stranger on my cell phone. Turns out Connie had gotten my name and number from a couple of other local pastors. A friend of hers is cycling through Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska and was heading back to Missouri but was suffering with pain in his knee.
“The pastor at the Lutheran Church said he could pitch his tent at their place and they’d give him a key so he could get in and use the bathroom. He said you might be able to let him stay inside at your church but he didn’t have your phone number. The pastor at the Baptist Church gave me your number.” She told me about Brent’s mission to ride his bicycle, witness to people about Jesus and give away Bibles. “He has such a sweet spirit,” she said, “But his knee is hurting so bad. He needs a place where he can stay for two or three days and rest his knee.” I told her I was pretty sure we could make arrangements; “We have plenty of room inside our church and we have showers, a washer and dryer and a sofa.”
She thanked me, profusely, said she’d text me Brent’s number and would call him and tell him to call me so we could figure out a rendezvous point. “I just talked to him a little bit ago and he said he was twelve miles from Wathena.”
Since we live three miles west of Wathena and Brent was pedaling east on Highway 36, I was hoping I could catch up with him before he got past the church and our house, which are less than two-tenths of a mile away from each other. About a half-mile before I reached the church, I spotted a biker and figured it was him. As soon as I got past him, I flipped on the turn signal, braked hard and swerved over onto the wide shoulder in the flat right in front of the church. I swung the car door opened and motioned for him to stop.
He did stop, about a hundred feet behind the car, obviously wary and wondering what was going on. As I walked back toward him, I could see that he was drenched with sweat. He also seemed to be tired and in pain. Given that he’d already ridden nearly fifty miles with sixty-to-seventy pounds of gear on his bike, that seemed a safe speculation. As I walked up close, the wariness showed in his face. God help me, I still couldn’t pass up such an opportunity.
“Your name is Brent and you have a sore knee. You need a place to rest.”
A pastor could live a lifetime without a moment like that. The wariness on his face gave way to sheer wonder and amazement. He leaned toward me, eyes wide open as he tilted his head to one side, “How did you know?”
I hesitated just slightly, relishing the moment, then gave in to decency. I grinned widely and confessed, “Connie called me; she told me about you.” He nodded his head, “Oh, okay.” I asked him if he had enough energy left to pedal his bike across the highway and up the driveway to the church door.
“Yes,” he replied, “You know, I just saw the church and I thought, ‘I could stay there; I could put my tent right here.’ Oh, thank you, thank you so much.”
The notion of calculating simultaneous arrivals at a given point on the highway for a biker pedaling from Sabetha, Kansas, and a motorist leaving Ernie’s Bar and Grill in Highland is just outright impressive, I think. Turns out God is not only Creator, he’s also an Engineer.