I’ve had my share of daydreams about living on permanent vacation, but this wasn’t how I pictured it going down.
After moving to a new city for work, my family couldn’t find a home that fit us or our budget, despite how hard we tried. Surprisingly, our new city even had a waiting list for apartments.
And so it was that hotel Room 229 became our address for a while.
This wasn’t what we had in mind when planning our move, but one sparkling, blue grace did accompany hotel life — a swimming pool.
Day upon day, my children and I whisked our way downstairs to the water, as the pool quickly became our escape from the small room and its imposing walls.
While those months of hotel life are now the foggy flashbacks of yesteryear, there is one extraordinary afternoon I’ll never forget — for we had no idea of the divine appointment God had scheduled for us that day.
My sons collected playmates almost as quickly as they collected dirt, and this day was no exception as they became fast friends with a little boy at the pool.
Laughter filled the courtyard as the sun crawled down the horizon, until finally I called my crew inside for supper.
While the boys said goodbye to their new friend, I gathered our things, and there in the dusk of that humble afternoon, God offered a glimpse into his divine appointment book.
“Thank you. Thank you more than you know,” a warm voice expressed.
I turned to listen as a grateful mother spoke of a son who was different, who was rarely included, who was used to being the lonely observer, not the welcomed friend.
Wow, I thought. I assumed we’d gone poolside that day to escape the nagging walls of a hotel room, believed we lived from suitcases because we couldn’t find a home.
Yet, right in the middle of my messed-up plans, God gave me fresh insight for the countless unseen ways we keep divine appointments.
That day, my family found ourselves living the truth of Solomon’s proverb, “You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail” (Proverbs 19:21).
We’d made many plans, all right — plans that wouldn’t align with our timing, plans that didn’t include raising our family in a hotel room.
Yet we’d forgotten that God knows what it is to make himself at home in extra-ordinary places. Jesus left the glories of heaven for the gravity of earth to fulfill the greatest purpose of all — to become the Savior of the world. (John 6:38-40) And, during his ministry on earth, he often slept outdoors on the Mount of Olives, calling no place home. (Luke 21:37; Matthew 8:20) Then after his resurrection and return to heaven, the Holy Spirit came to dwell within the life of every believer. (John 14:16-17)
This very same God who makes his home with us intimately orders our days, plants our feet in timely places and weaves purpose into our stories. I realized that day that life isn’t all about finding a place to call home but about being at home with his plans, open to appointments we never see coming.
That evening, I walked back up the stairs to Room 229 with fresh understanding for the purpose bound up in the weary parts of life, as cramped hotel living became a worthy offering to the Keeper of eternal timetables.
For I saw purpose in the grateful eyes of a mom that day, in the laughs of a welcomed little boy, in the sacred cadence of surrender’s song: Here am I, Lord. Send me.
Dear Lord, thank you for ordering my days for yourself. May my heart be open to every divine appointment you schedule. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
(Written by Brenda Bradford Ottinger; Proverbs 31 Ministries)
At First Lutheran, we are a community of disciples of Jesus Christ working for the transformation of the world. Throughout our history, we have remained committed to drawing on our Lutheran (ELCA) tradition of using meaningful worship, content-rich learning and warm hospitality to care well for our congregation, the surrounding community and the world.