Sometimes I literally feel like God tricks me into the best parts of my life. And he has to, because I realize I wouldn’t have stepped into the best things on my own. God had to do that.

I’ve just returned from hosting the retreat of my dreams. Now granted, my dreams are not everyone else’s dreams because I am a hardcore adventurer and I will gladly trade comfort for adventure any day of the week. I just slept in a tent on top of a vintage Volkswagen bus for 4 days, drove a stick shift with no power steering or power breaks, with no AC, crank windows, and the most uncomfortable seats you’ve ever sat in on a roadtrip up the coast of California with 15 other podcast listeners and BIG Life girls. Like I said, my dream retreat! I’m totally ready to load up and do it again!

I want to tell you all about our Volkswagen Bus Camping Retreat, but today I’m only going to tell you about my absolute favorite memory from this epic adventure. It was at a bad restaurant with bad food, bad service, bad weather, and a bad band. God totally tricked us into being there for all this bad so he could do something so good.

At the campgrounds, we saw a chalk board announcing a live band playing on Wednesday night at a local restaurant. We were told the band was great and it was reggae night. Well, that sounds fun. So, I talk the retreat girls into putting braids and beads into our hair and walking to the restaurant for dinner and reggae music.

We arrive to a dark, dingy restaurant none of us wanted to sit in, so we opt for the long table outside. We quickly realize we were the only ones at the restaurant. And when I say only ones, I mean legit, the only ones. There wasn’t a single other person inside or outside eating there the entire night. It was only us. Us and the band.

And the band … well, let me tell you about the band. The band was 5 old fellas that wrote their own music about surfing waves 60 years ago. It was a mix of the blues and bad love songs, and most certainly not an ounce of reggae. But, we were there, so I challenged a few of the girls to make it special for the band and cheer for them like we were their ultimate fans. I mean afterall, we had already put the beads in our hair.

It started with clapping after each song. The band responded. They were delighted. Remember, we were the only ones there. Then we began hooting and hollering after each song. The band was thrilled and they began telling the story behind each song. It was 7 pm, and the old fellas were getting tired, so they announced it would be their final song. With that in mind, we went all in and decided to start dancing. The rhythm was hard to follow, but we all danced any way.

Then, something happened … the band kept playing. One song after another, they just wouldn’t stop. So, we kept dancing. They eventually handed us the microphone and invited us to sing. So, we did. They played along.

But, there was a greater purpose behind us thinking we were going to a reggae band that night, and instead ending up at a totally subpar Mexican restaurant in the cold as the only people listening to these old fellas play subpar music. God had tricked us into being his answer to a very specific prayer.

At the end of the night, the drummer walked up to our table and asked who we were. We explained we were from all over the US, together on an adventure retreat. He looked a little stunned, then he said, “do you all believe in the power of prayer?” YES! Yes, we do. Then, he got a little choked up as he told us just before playing that night, they once again looked at an empty restaurant and an empty patio, disappointed. He had announced that if they played for absolutely no one again for the 5th time in a row, this would be their last time and they were quitting. Then he prayed. He prayed and ask God to bring them someone to listen to them. Someone for them to play to.

And in walk 16 women in tie dye shirts with braids and beads in their hair, determined to make it a fun night by making a big deal out of the band. We were his answered prayer, and he just couldn’t believe we had showed up. Actually, his exact words to us were, “Here you girls are and I’m like what the F***?!!!!” And I couldn’t believe God had used us to be an answer to this man’s prayer. And remember, God had tricked us into being there!

Not a reggae band … not a good restaurant … not anything we would have chosen … but nothing we would trade!

Psalm 66:19 “But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.”

The drummer knew God had listened. God had paid attention to his prayer. And girls, if God will trick a group of fun loving gals on a retreat into stumbling in to listen to bad music at a bad restaurant all because the drummer prayed for someone to show up and listen, I’m pretty sure God will pay attention to our prayers!

He is! God is listening! You have God’s attention! Go ahead and talk to him about this!

How did God answer his prayers? Through us. Y’all, we get to be God’s answer to someone who is crying out. You have no idea what God is doing through you, so, here’s an idea, just show up with a good attitude.

How many times do we get grouchy and impatient when the food is bad, the service is bad, and the band is bad? And how many times do we miss that it was never about the food, it was never about the service, and it was never about the band … we were there to be God’s hands and feet in the flow of God’s movement.

The leader of the band later came to our group and told us his story. He had lost his wife in 1990, and he just couldn’t get over her. In losing her, he had lost himself. He had lost his purpose and his joy in living. You could see it in his eyes, you could hear it in his voice. This man was still heartbroken after 30 years. Seeking to honor her, a few years ago, he had put together this band and started singing. It had brought him back to life again. Every time he sang, he was singing for her. Every song was honoring her. He was healing.

And God trusted us to be part of his healing! Because we were there, they won’t quit. Because we were there, they know God heard their prayers. Because we were there, this brokenhearted man will continue to sing to honor his wife.

And why were we there? God tricked us, and we just went with it.

Maybe right now, God is tricking you. You’re at a job that didn’t end up being what you thought it was going to be. You’re living in an area you wouldn’t have chosen. You’re in a situation that wasn’t on your 5 year plan. You’re dealing with an uh-oh pregnancy, or a painfully delayed family plan. This was NOT what you had in mind. But, Sis, go with it. Dare to believe that God is up to something here, because he is!

All of this sits in his mighty and capable hands. He is in every detail. And sometimes he leads you to where you were not expecting, to experience something you wouldn’t have signed up for, all for the purpose of being part of his greater plan you just can’t see quite yet. Trust him.

And as you trust him, don’t be a brat about it.

You have a choice to sit there upset, or dance along. Dance along. You never know how God might be using you.

As a new Christian, one of the first scriptures I was drawn to was Hebrews 13:2 “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”

I started looking at strangers, wondering if the guy in the Old Navy t-shirt was an angel. Is the woman at the intersection an angel? Is my cashier at the Walmart an angel? Well, I don’t know! But God tells me I should show them hospitality because they might be! Now, I’m beginning to see this scripture in a different light. What if we were to live our lives in such a way that it makes strangers wonder if maybe we’re the angels. Maybe we’re the messengers of God. Maybe we’re the divine answer to their prayers!

Really, what if God wants to use you, and he wants to use you right in the middle of an awkward and unwanted situation to show his love, his joy, his energy, his grace, and his genuine enthusiasm over a precious creation of his that needs a little reassurance and encouragement? Will you be that angel? Will you be that messenger?

What if this place you don’t want to be in, and this situation you only want to avoid, is God’s way of tricking you into being exactly where he wants and needs you to be? What if there’s work for you to do here? What if you are his messenger? What if you are the answered prayer? And what if all you have to do is show up with a smile? Would you?

I’m pretty sure there’s a band of 5 old fellas in Ventura, California that are questioning if the girls in tie dye shirts with braids and beads are angels there answering their prayers.

Think about this … an angel is a supernatural being divinely guided by God, sent on assignment to be his messenger. Isn’t that us too? We are supernatural. We are divinely guided by God. We are on assignment as his messengers.

I pray we show up like it so God can use us! God, trick us again!

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