This is my next door neighbors’ magnolia tree, as seen through my bedroom window. It’s a big, beautiful tree. Right now, it only has one blossom on it, that I’ve noticed, but it is still nice to look at. It stays green all year round, which I didn’t realize magnolias did, and it sits just yards away from the western side of our house. It is actually closer to our house than it is to our neighbors’. If you look closely at this picture, you can see some power lines running right next to the tree, even somewhat tangled in it. I’ve got a story about that, and if you’ll indulge me, I will now tell it.
Yesterday, little man and I went up the road about 70 miles to my hometown to run a few errands and visit some family. I had it all planned out, even down to where we would eat lunch. I had to make a stop at a store in one town, then head another 20 minutes down the road to my hometown. I would stop at the Sonic there and get a one dollar hotdog and some tater tots for my lunch and use a coupon for a free kid’s meal for Connor’s lunch, and then head on to the first of my several visitation stops before coming back home and cooking a quick supper of spaghetti.
Well, my plans changed once I made it to my old stomping grounds. The entire area where Sonic is located was out of power due to a short, strong rain that had come through just minutes before I made it to town, so no Sonic. Instead, I headed out to the south end of town to my grandma Margaret’s house and visited with her for a couple of hours. We left there and headed to the north end of town to my grandma Carolyn’s house. A quick look as we passed through told me Sonic was still in the dark ages, so still no Sonic. After a couple of hours with Grandma C., I decided we needed to head home so I could get supper on the table at a normal time, but it had started to rain and was coming down a decent clip. On a whim, at the last moment, I decided to go ahead and make a stop at my dad and step-mom’s house the next street over. I figured it had been awhile since I’d seen them, and I didn’t want to get blown off the freeway trying to make it home in the deluge. My dad was working, but we stuck around and visited for a couple of hours anyway. By then, it was five o’clock in the evening. It was too late for cooking a quick supper, so I was glad to still have the Sonic coupon and opportunity for a cheap hot dog. Nic wanted tacos from his favorite taco place, so Connor-man and I headed out.
The rain was at a steady sprinkle, which I was thankful for, even though I was sure it would follow me all the way home. I made one more quick stop at my mom’s work to pick up some paperwork, then headed down the road for food. The food, however, took much longer than I had expected, at both places. I wound up being about 30 minutes later than I would have been without the stops, and I was lamenting at being so late. The rain continued to taper off and was all but gone entirely by the time I made it home about seven in the evening.
I was about ten minutes from home when I noticed that there were a lot of leaves, twigs, sticks, and limbs strewn about everywhere: in yards, on the highway, in parking lots, you name it. Clearly, a storm with a lot of strong wind had just come through minutes before me. Not a tornado, but certainly something I was thankful I wasn’t trying to drive through. I turned onto our road, and noticed even more limbs lying around in the pecan orchard, and as I neared my next door neighbor’s house, I saw what looked like two downed Bradford pear trees in their yard, one on each side of the driveway. When I got closer, I realized it wasn’t entire trees, but a large limb from each tree had been blown off by the wind. Then, I noticed smoke on the far side of the magnolia tree, which is on the far side of their driveway. I couldn’t tell what was burning from where I was, so I looked closely as I passed by, worried it was our house. It turned out to be the tree. The Bradford pear limb had pulled some power lines into the magnolia, and the magnolia leaves were trying to catch fire from it. It was smoke and sparks when I saw it, but one small dry, dead limb was well on its way to catching fire. I pulled into the neighbors’ driveway and told them about the smoking magnolia. They immediately called the fire department and another neighbor. Before long, we had a collection of trucks, neighbors, and firemen out in front of ours’ and our neighbors’ houses.
Thankfully, the tree never did catch fire, the firemen were able to remove the fallen pear limb from the wires, and the electric company turned off the power remotely until they could free the wires from the magnolia tree. We spent about 13 hours without power waiting on that fix. No one was hurt and no further damage to anyone’s property occurred. Even our milk is still good. I call that God’s provision.
However, as amazing as God’s provision is, what struck me most about the whole thing was God’s timing. If my hometown hadn’t had a power outage, I would have used my Sonic coupon for lunch, leaving us with yet another expense for supper. If it hadn’t been raining as hard as it was when I left Grandma Carolyn’s house, I would have come on home. If the restaurants hadn’t taken so long getting the orders out to me, I would have been driving through and gotten home during the storm that caused so much damage. If I had already been home, I would not have known about the smoke coming from the magnolia tree. That’s not to say that no one else could have seen it, but they may not have, if anyone else would have passed by before dark. What if that tree had not been noticed, and it had caught fire? At best, the neighbors would have lost a lovely, large tree. At worst, we, or even the neighbors, could have lost our home. None of that may have happened at all, and I know there’s no point in worrying about the “what if’s” of life. I’m not suggesting we all start doing that. What I am saying is this: God clearly wanted me to be late in coming home yesterday. He wanted me away from home yesterday, and he wanted me late getting back. The entire day, down to a cheap meal ($2.92 for two people, by the way), occurred in such a way as to keep me in my hometown for far longer than I had intended.
God’s timing is perfect. We get frustrated with people, things, and situations that cause our schedules to go awry. We gripe, complain, and lament, even, when we have to improvise or play it by ear. Most of the time, God’s timing of things is not something we see so easily. It is something that often is years in the making, and we, being the imperfect humans that we are, forget what all happened or just simply don’t connect the dots. Then, sometimes, God’s timing is as clear as day. It’s right in our faces, demanding our notice, our praise, and our gratefulness. It’s a reminder of what all is going on behind the scenes every day, whether we remember it or know it or not. God is always working, and His timing is always exactly right. He is never early, and He is never late. He just wants us to trust Him.