Sid and I are here in Florida for this season. It’s hard to believe we’ve been coming to Florida for the last eight winters, the first several times just passing through or staying for a short time, the last several actually living down here for a number of months.
Doing so has allowed us to live deeply while here, restoring relationships with family who live nearby as well as experiencing meaningful dialogues and interactions with those here who had never heard of Messianic Jews before meeting us. Each year has brought us into deeper intimacy with HaShem and I can’t wait to see what this season will bring.
This year we got a later start than anticipated due to several factors but once we set out, all went smoothly. It is a long drive, however, over 1000 miles, so starting from Massachusetts rather than Maine helps us to knock a few hours off of the drive. Last year I was amazed that we left my sister’s house in MA on a Thursday at 11:30 AM and arrived in Jacksonville, FL the next day on Erev Shabbat around 7:30 PM. We marveled that we could be in FL seemingly so quickly as we pulled into a Cracker Barrel there to spend the night before finishing the drive to our home the next morning a little over three hours south of Jacksonville.
This year we left on Monday around 12:30 PM from my sister’s house and really weren’t even thinking about when or where to stop. The only “agenda” was on Tuesday Sid felt like stopping at an Applebee’s for dinner. We actually missed the stop in Georgia we had planned on so instead we powered on to Jacksonville which seemed doable.
As we crossed the border into Florida on Tuesday evening we were really looking forward to a celebratory meal at the Applebee’s I had plugged into the GPS. The one I “randomly” found was just one of a multitude of locations along the way significantly north and south of Jacksonville as well as around the outerbelt and right through the city, itself, on I-95. After a fun dinner we decided to look for a Cracker Barrel nearby since that restaurant welcomes overnight RV parking. (We often express our thanks with breakfast there the next morning.) Cracker Barrels are even more prevalent than Applebee’s, especially along I-95 where we needed to go, so we were not concerned about finding one within an easy driving distance.
As we started to follow the directions for the closest Cracker Barrel we noticed that we were not being directed toward the interstate, but rather, toward an area that looked very familiar. Actually we were directed to turn left out of the Applebee’s driveway toward what looked like a residential area. It began to look a lot like the vicinity of the Cracker Barrel we had stayed at last year which was off the beaten path in a community of hotels. Of all the possibilities on such a long drive, and even around a major city such as Jacksonville, the Applebee’s we “randomly” chose turned out to be a tenth of a mile from the exact same Cracker Barrel we had stayed at last year! Somehow with all the variables, we had replicated our exact overnight stay location from the year before down to the amount of time to get there and even to the very same place as last year.
The chances of that are nearly impossible. We had made different stops, had different plans along the way, left at different times, yet here we were with this “coincidence”. It felt as if HaShem had it all planned out for us, showing us through these synchronicities of time and place that He is on this journey with us, leading us where we are to go. It was as if He wanted us to notice, to remind us that although we think we are making plans, He is in charge. He takes our choices and reminds us that He will use those for His purposes.
I am so excited to see what surprises lie ahead to guide our steps. We don’t yet know what this year’s adventure will bring. What we do know is that whatever it is, our Abba is in it, too. Just as He so powerfully reminded me, wherever you are, He is there too. The more we notice, the more He reveals.
May your week be filled with adventure and openness to seeing His Hand in it all.