Taking a Wrong Turn
When I decided to lead a service trip to California, I never thought it’d mean getting literally stuck in the middle of nowhere.
A group of students and myself hopped in a 12-passenger van and started making our way toward California to serve at a children’s camp in the Redwood Forrest.
Our pre-planned route said we were to stop in Omaha, Nebraska, but we decided to stop at a rest stop and eat before then. Once we got back on the road, we accidentally missed our turn to get back onto the interstate. The map on our phones began to reroute and took us to a gravel road that appeared to quickly merge back onto the interstate.
As we were traveling along this gravel road in the dark, we quickly realized it was turning into a dirt road. At this point, there was no way of turning back and really no way out other than to hope for the merge back onto the interstate that was supposed to be appearing.
The dirt on the road eventually turned into mud, and our big ole van (we named her Big Bessie) was losing traction. We saw car lights in the distance and felt relieved that someone else was traveling on the road. Our phones revealed to us that we were half a mile away from the road we were to turn on… so close!
As we got closer to the car ahead of us, we realized they were stopped. And as we got even closer and found ourselves losing more and more traction, we realized they were stuck in the mud and could not get out.
And so were we.
Stuck right beside them.
We stepped out of the car and quickly realized that the other stuck car held two men within it that could not speak any English. They were afraid, alone, and tired of struggling.
We got out of that van, and every single person on our trip stepped out of Big Bessie with their bare feet in the cold mud. Everyone began to try to push this vehicle out of the mud and onto the pavement that was literally 50 feet in front of us. We pushed and we shoved and we dug our feet in the mud and did what we could.
Big Bessie did not budge.
So then we had an idea. We thought we’d put corn stalks down for traction for our tires. We tried it and failed. We were stuck. In the middle of nowhere.
We had to accept the fact that we needed outside help, so we got a tow truck to come pick us up. The man that answered was laying at home in bed, and his towing business was technically closed for the night, but he told us he’d get out of bed and come get us. He said he’d come out and serve us. Then something cool happened.
My co-leader and I went out and began talking with the other two gentlemen that were stuck. My co-leader just so happens to be a Spanish minor, so she was able to communicate with them. We asked them questions, we learned about them, we laughed with them, and we danced with them. One of the men looked up to Heaven and pointed and said “Thank God you all came to us! Praise be to God!!” And then we prayed together.
Total strangers, and we held hands and prayed together.
One of the guys admitted how he had cried before we got there because of how afraid he was. They had been stuck there for hours. Lost, scared, alone, and unable to communicate.
We climbed in our vehicles and pretty soon we saw the lights up ahead.
The mighty tow truck. When the tow truck came to get us, they were able to get those two men out as well. We saved them. Total strangers and we had prayed with them, danced with them, and sang with them. We overcame with them.
As we got out and made our way to the nearest gas station to clean up, we pulled up and went into the bathroom. Every one of us began washing off our feet and each other’s feet.
Listen to that: we began washing off each other’s feet.
Now read John 13:14 “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”
We were literally stuck in a situation, and so were those two men. We got help from a tow truck, and so did they. The Lord blessed us and helped us get out, and we helped those two men get out as well. Each of us had dirty feet, so we spent time in the gas station bathroom cleaning one another’s feet.
What a way to start a week of service.
God is so good. And it’s not always easy to see or understand or have clarity with what’s going on. But each day, there is goodness, and there is love, and there is peace. You have to choose to accept it and embrace it and have faith in it.
We took a wrong turn. We didn’t go down the path we had planned on or intended. But we found those two men and comforted them and got them help too because of our twisted journey. God can use you too if you open your eyes, ears, and mind to serving those around you and washing their feet as well.
Even when you take a wrong turn.