Guided By The Holy Spirit
September 3, 2018
By Kel Billings
I was driving to church Sunday morning, looking forward to seeing friends. As I drove from Kernersville into Winston-Salem, the closer I got to church, the more uneasy I became about going. It wasn’t the usual “I don’t want to go to church” feeling, but something deeper. I nearly felt anxious. “What’s going on?” I wondered.
Usually when I return to the states (from the Middle East) the culture shock does make me quite anxious, especially being in public places, but this felt a little different. I needed some time to process this, so I stopped to buy gasoline. I filled up, and as I drove away, my hands were nearly shaking from this unknown uneasiness. I couldn’t go. I entered the highway returning to Kernersville.
I rode a couple of miles, then I saw it. Beside the road was a gray car with a flat tire, and an older gentleman standing by the car. Instantly I knew I was to help him. It wasn’t some random guilt-based – “I ought to help” thought. It was an immediate, full body and soul knowing that I was to stop. I frequently see cars on the side of the road and usually think, “they have a mobile phone”, and keep driving.
At the next ramp I exit the highway, loop back around, getting back on the highway, exiting, and looping around again to get to him. I pulled up, he looked relieved. I saw a younger gentleman in the passenger seat, he smiled. I immediately wondered why he wasn’t helping. As I walk up, he opens the door and I see his legs don't function properly, he has MS. I’m embarrassed by my thought. That’s what happens when we make judgments.
I learn the older gentleman suffers from congestive heart failure, that the two are from the mountains, an hour or so from home, on their way to see the younger man’s wife, who's in hospital suffering from seizures. They don’t know anyone in Winston-Salem to call for help. They called the police, but they were busy with more serious calls. It’s hot, really hot. They look like they have been waiting a while. We talk for a minute, they are kind, gracious and relieved. I’m glad I’m there. I change the tire, they are grateful and continue to the hospital. I go to Starbucks.
I sat outside sipping Earl Grey tea, processing it all - I wanted to go to church, so I drove from Kernersville into Winston-Salem, but I experienced a lack of peace the nearer I came to the church. So I turn around. Then I see this car on the side of the highway and I instantly know, without a doubt, I'm to stop. I provide assistance, the anxiety leaves, peace returns. In other words I drove from Kernersville to change a tire. Yep, that’s it.
I deeply believe that I was directed by God not to go to church, rather to help these folks. To some that might sound a little un-christlike, but Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Although it's one of the things that got him into trouble with the religious authorities and prompted them to look for ways to kill him. They were protecting the status quo. At one point Jesus tells the religious elite, "Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'", quoting the Jewish Prophet Hosea.
As I sat there looking at the dirt on my hands, I smiled. Not only had my peace returned, but more importantly I had felt something guiding me and I responded correctly by changing my plans, and then saw what I was supposed to do. Christians say it’s being guided by the Holy Spirit, God inside of humans. Other might call it coincidence, or synchronicity. It felt good to know I was sensing correctly, and reacted properly. Scott Peck, in his book The Road Less Traveled, suggests these things happen quite frequently, but thinks we’re too busy, and too focused on carrying out our own plans to notice. I agree. Honestly, these types of things do happen a lot, we just have to be aware.