The road was not registering on our GPS. In fact, very few of the roads were. We were in Burgundy, France, home to some of the most fabled wineries in the world. Acres of slopes of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes beckoned and we were eager to visit the chateaus for a wine tasting. But at this moment, all we truly desired to visit was a bathroom! Unfortunately a public bathroom was a rarity in this part of France and even more elusive in the middle of thousands of acres of grape vines.
“What about this place?”
It was a small house, set below the main road. An inconspicuous sign displayed the name of the winery and next to the sign, what looked like a bathroom or outhouse. I turned to my wife sitting next to me. “Let’s stop here and ask if we can use the bathroom!”
As we entered the gravel and dirt parking lot, a middle-aged gentleman emerged from the house. I exited my car and inquired in broken French whether we could use his bathroom. “Oui!” He nodded, pointing to the door. Within a few minutes, my wife and I were refreshed and ready to continue our excursion through the wineries. As we prepared to leave, I surveyed the current location, not even mentioned in our guidebooks, and suggested to my wife, “Let’s visit this winery!” We knocked on the door of the house and spied our host behind the counter, pouring wine tastings to two guests. We sat at the counter, nodding and smiling to the gathering and asked whether they had a price list for the wine tastings. My faltering attempts at communication were answered by our host, “I don’t speak english!” Several more futile attempts were to no avail. Disappointed, we rose to leave, just as one of patrons at the counter perked up and declared, “Ah I can help!”
He exchanged a few words in French with our host who then smiled and waved his hands.
“There is no charge!”
A few more words were exchanged and our bilingual patron explained. “He said there is no charge for the tastings! Drink what he pours and if you like it, you may purchase it. No pressure!”
For the next two hours, we enjoyed the hospitality of our new friend. Singing, laughing, and sharing an encounter that would never had materialized if we had rigidly followed our guide book. Travel is indeed, so broadening! The most memorable times during our vacations are the unexpected surprises. The hidden village discovered on a wrong turn; the obscure restaurant frequented by only the locals; bonding with the winemaker and owner of a lovely boutique winery in Burgundy.
Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.
Acts 28:7-10 (ESV)
The Apostle Paul was being transported on a prison ship to Rome where he was to plead his case and present his testimony before the emperor. Although he was assured by God that he would make it to Rome, several life threatening disasters intervened, including a shipwreck on the island of Malta. God used this seeming detour to allow Paul to witness to the Roman governor, Publius, by using Paul to heal the governor’s father. Because of this, Publius and many others accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. History later records that Publius became the first Bishop of Malta.
So often in my spiritual walk with God, I want to have my pathway completely mapped out. I view detours and potholes with frustration and impatience. But with my retrospective eye, I realize that it is during these seemingly annoying reroutings, that God is creating yet another opportunity to demonstrate His Majesty! His Providence overrides my preconceived map of what I expect my life should be. And Praise God that He does this!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.