I just got back from a really fun camping trip in my home state, New York. When I realized our campsite would be near the Erie Canal, I thought it would be fun to ride bikes along the tow path. I searched online for the best place to start, but couldn’t find anything that told where the path started. On a map, I saw a state park and figured we’d find the path once we arrived.
Arriving at the park, the attendant pointed out the canal. I was excited to start riding and was filled with awe, thinking of the manpower that went into digging the canals. We rode over to the Visitor’s Center, but it was closed. We asked a few people if they knew where the path started, but they were visitors themselves. We asked a runner and then the lock master. No one knew anything. I was beginning to get irritated now. Didn’t these people realize what a gem they had? How could they not know? I asked more people with no results. I could feel my mood taking a nose dive, and I know it was apparent in the tone of my voice.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m not the role model of patience Jesus wants me to be. I started feeling a nudge saying, “You’re getting ugly.” It was quiet at first. Then, tap, tap, tap. “You’re getting ugly.” Then another, Tap, Tap, Tap. “You’re getting ugly.”
By the time the Holy Spirit made me fully aware of it, I felt as though it was a shout in my head. I saw myself from the outside, what I probably looked and sounded like to those people who were trying to help us. They were all really nice; they just didn’t know where the tow path started. I had about 3 minutes with each of these strangers, and I certainly wasn’t being Jesus to them in my sour mood. I felt ashamed about the way I had responded to the situation and embarrassed by my behavior. I was being “treacherous without excuse” and was being “put to shame.” (Psalm 25:3)
Luckily, I was able to turn my disappointment around and was grateful to be there, even if it wasn’t the exact location I had intended. I remembered that God calls me to never tire or become weary of doing good and to be thankful in all situations. I was reminded of how our words and attitudes can infect someone or lift them up. I thanked the Holy Spirit for keeping me in check and asked forgiveness for taking so long to respond.
We never did ride our bikes on the tow path. The rest of the day was spent exploring cute towns along the canal and finding a beautiful waterfall on the Mohawk River with a yummy ice cream stand overlooking it. In the future, I hope I’ll respond to that nudge the first time it knocks!
Let’s pray together….
Father, thank you for the incomparably great power you gave to us, the power which is like the working of your mighty strength (Ephesians 1:19) Without it, I can’t be the woman you created me to be. In my humanness, I want to complain and whine when I don’t get my way. Forgive me for my bad attitude and for forgetting that Jesus paid a high price for the gift of this power. Help me recognize and respond to the nudge of the Holy Spirit, and help me to remember to be Jesus to those I meet every day.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
Mary Beth Foster