Where You From?

A tourist was traveling on his way to the North Carolina highlands and stopped at a country gas station for a pit stop and a Coke.  The man was casually dressed but not in the way of the locals. In place of the snapback cap, blue jeans and work boots of the locals, the traveler wore a golf visor, pleated shorts, and a button down.  The men watching the red BMW pull up to the gas pump didn’t have to see the license plate or wait until the traveler got out of the car to know he was a stranger.  Nobody they knew drove luxury foreign cars. Ford, Chevy and Ram Trucks, yes but not BMWs.

When the tourist approached the threshold of the store the men on the bench eyed the tall stranger up and down but didn’t say a word. The stranger nodded to the men feeling their steel-eyed gaze and noticed that none of the men nodded back or moved.

The tourist placed the Coke on the check-out counter and waited for someone to serve him. The silence of the place was unnerving.

“Where you from?” asked a voice from beneath the counter as an old woman slowly came to her feet from kneeling near the cash register. “And where you headed?”

“Atlanta,” said the well-dressed man. “I’m from Atlanta. Headed to Asheville.”

“How’d you get here,” said the woman with a smile. “We ain’t exactly on the way. You lost?”

“I decided to take the scenic route, I suppose” said the tourist. "Yes, I'm a bit lost. Can you help me get back on the right road to Asheville?"

"Consider yourself found," said the cashier. "I'll draw you a map and get you back on track."

The woman pulled out a small tablet and began to scribble on it. "You lived in the big city your whole life?”

“Yes,” said the visitor.        

“I ain’t never been to Atlanta,” said the woman, finishing the map and sliding it to her patron.

“It’s a hectic place” said the man. “It's good to get away.”

"You a Christian man," asked the woman. "Believe in God?"

"Yes, I'm a Lutheran," said the man. "I love God."

"A Lutheran," said the woman. "Justified by grace through faith alone."

"You're Lutheran?" asked the man with surprise.

"Baptized and confirmed at 14 years old in the old Lutheran church in town, "grinned the woman. "Wouldn't be nothing else."

"That's cool," said the man.

“I guess it don’t matter so much where you’re from really,” said the woman. “You're Lutheran. I'm Lutheran. You're big city. I'm  little town. People make too much of that stuff and get stuck where they are. Like you can never be anything but what you started out being. Some of them men out there on that bench are like that. Been sitting in the same place for sixty years. They ain’t going nowhere quick. Suppose you ain't like that.   As long as you keep God as your copilot on the scenic route, you'll be ok. God will introduce you to some interesting people along the way. You might even meet a Lutheran ever now and again.”

“What’s your name,” asked the traveler.

“Maybelle Green,” said the clerk.

“Maybelle, what do I owe you for the Coke.”

“Nothing,” smiled the woman. “Consider it a family gift from a fellow Lutheran. I appreciate you bringing Atlanta to me cuz I probably won’t get there.  Do me a favor. Remember this little place and Maybelle Green when you get back to Atlanta. I'll pray for you. You pray for me. It’s not where you’re from but where you're going that really matters and all the little stops along the way when you're traveling with God.”  

We often forget that small out of the way places have played a large role in the biblical story. Places like Nazareth where Jesus' family came from.  And we forget that small otherwise insignificant people played big roles in the scriptural witness, people like little David.   The out of the way places and the apparent insignificant people in life, people like Maybelle Green who live in the strangest of places are often the ones God uses to connect us to God's wisdom and real direction. We don't meet people like Maybelle every day, and perhaps that's a good thing. But if we listen closely to the seemingly insignificant ones God places in our path we'll sometimes receive God's messages for our lives, divine truths in fact. They can be announced to us from anyone, anywhere at any time.

Blessings, Pastor Frank
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Genesis 19:20
"Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”