For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost. (Matthew 18:11 WEB)
My first experience riding a bus was in middle school. We didn’t live too far from the school and I could walk there in almost the same amount of time it took to wait for the bus, make all the others stops, and then unload at the school’s front porch. Not exciting by any means but it was a first experience with a school bus or a bus of any kind.
Forty years later my next experience with buses was wide ranging as I undertook the public transport systems of Europe. In most European cities you can get about quite well on buses, street cars and other inter‑city vehicles. You soon learn the critical bus routes and numbers for your routine trips. My experience included street cars, trains, subways as well as the ubiquitous bus.
One of my colleagues, Harry, was visiting our office in Slovakia one day so I offered to show him the city. Harry is an interesting character. He is the only man I know who would alphabetize his spice rack and remember the position of every item on his desk. He’s married now and discovering a whole new world of changes. His routines have changed but order is still important.
There was only one electric bus which started at a station one block from our office and ended at a stop one block from the city shopping center. The electric bus was predictable, reliable and always followed the same route. It was the only bus I ever rode and I knew it well. Get on at one end, get off at the other. No need to read the local language or know what stops were peppered along the way.
We purchased tickets, boarded the bus and started riding along. I explained some of the sites along the way. Everything was going according to plan. Then it happened. The bus turned right when it was supposed to turn left.
Perplexed I stopped my commentary and stared staring out the window. The view was taking on a shape I didn’t know.
“What’s wrong?” asked Harry.
“Well,” I started slowly, “the bus is going the wrong way.”
“What?” Harry responded with a little concern in his voice. “Where are we headed?”
“That’s the problem. I don’t know,” was all I could answer. We watched the streets and buildings rush by and waited in hopes of spotting something familiar.
Finally, the bus pulled into a major train station and everyone got off. We took this as our clue that we were at the end of the line. I looked about and figured we were about one kilometer from where we should be. With determination, and no way to read the other bus schedules, we walked toward town.
After some unexpected morning exercise, we eventually reached the city center enjoyed some sightseeing and shopping and then contemplated our return. I wasn’t sure how to get back since my favorite electric bus was going to the wrong place. We walked to a street corner and looked about for any helpful indication. I still didn’t know the local language or even the local name where the office was located.
Then I glanced across the street. There waiting for a bus was another colleague from the office. She lived in the city and knew the system well. We were saved! Laughing at our predicament she guided us to another bus with instructions for a safe return to the office. It was perfect timing, at the perfect place, for two wandering souls.
That’s also how God works in our lives when we open our eyes and look around. Sometimes we find ourselves dropped in unfamiliar surroundings, we don’t understand the language and we want to go home. God watches over our every step. The Holy Spirit guides day by day.
Next time you are wandering open your eyes. Look for the Father. He is there, just waiting to put us on the right bus, train, streetcar or subway back home.