1 September 2019 - Craig, Colorado
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)
The verse quoted above was a portion of one of the readings in church today. I don’t think of myself as an angel, although the word originally meant “messenger of God”, and I am bringing a message from God as I walk across the country. What I do know for sure is that all across this country, in nine different states, people have been hosting me - a stranger - and offering me lodging, rides from and back to the route, meals, motel rooms, bottles of cold water or Gatorade at just the right time, encouragement, hugs, donations of money - mostly for the children but also at times for Julia and me - and on and on it goes! People have not only not neglected to show hospitality to me, but have been doing it eagerly and with joy.
I must tell you that there was a big mental and emotional hurdle to overcome as I began walking again last Monday, after having spent almost two weeks at home to rest, heal my toe, and be with my family. On the fourth morning of “The Walk - Part 2,” as I left Steamboat Springs a few days ago, I was feeling incredibly lonely and called Julia soon after I started walking. I told her that I knew I could finish the walk physically, but I wasn’t so sure if I could finish due to the emotional challenges. I had also reached out to some of my friends by text, and some of them started texting me back with suggestions and questions. My friend and mentor, Julia Colwell, encouraged me to find “Door #3.” She texted, “There’s #1: continuing. #2: not continuing, coming home. #3: how can you get what you really want?”
As I walked with that question, and as I talked more to Julia, I realized that what I really wanted was company - more people to join me along the route (either walking with me or shadowing me for a while with their cars and staying with me at night), and also people who might just show up for a few minutes while I was walking. As I got clear that I wanted more company, people started showing up right and left! A woman named Mars parked on the right side of the road, crossed the street, told me that she had read about me the day before in the Steamboat Pilot newspaper, and wanted to meet me. She didn’t say a lot. She teared up twice and gave me two hugs. Another woman named Janet passed me and honked, then came back later in the morning with two bottles of Gatorade that she had purchased for me. A woman named Teri called me and said she had a gift certificate for a motel in Craig that she wanted to give to me. My hosts for the previous two nights, Bill and Sue Leeson, drove by as I was approaching a very narrow and dangerous canyon, and gave me a ride across that section of road so that I would be safe. And late in the day, my hosts for the next two nights, Bain and Christine White, met me for the last mile of my walk into Hayden, with their yellow lab Barnabas, and walked with me to their front door! On Friday and Saturday, I had other encounters with people who had met me earlier and who stopped their cars, got out, and offered me encouragement and bottles of water. And tomorrow, my friend Jeff Garrett is flying to Denver from Minnesota, renting a car for most of a week, and shadowing me as I travel through a very sparsely populated part of northwest Colorado and northeast Utah.
God is so good! And I continue to experience God showing up through people who are offering amazing love, hospitality, and encouragement. I can tell you that these encounters, whether they last five minutes or I stay with someone for a few nights, keep me going!
The joy of company… the beauty of company… the miracle of company… is my “door #3.” I still miss Julia a lot - every day, in fact. I miss our home a lot. And I want to complete the mission that God has called me to do, on behalf of children. I have 2-1/2 months left to go, and the only way I know how to make it is by going one day at a time, one step at a time.
As I have said many times now to many different groups, it may look like I am walking across the country by myself. But I’m not. God is with me. And so many of the children of God are with me - family and friends, most definitely. But I am also being shown hospitality by so many people who didn’t even know me 24 hours ago or a few months ago.
I thank each one of you. And I thank you, Lord, for all of your traveling mercies.