Eric wanted a country-fried steak biscuit with egg and cheese from Hardees. We were heading to Chattanooga, TN from Holly Springs, NC on Friday morning, September 22. Thursday night's meeting with the Gashler's, Mark, Trace, and before her bedtime, their adorable daughter Ellie, was enjoyable and productive. There weren't too many Hardees on our route and we finally saw a sign indicating that the elusive biscuit could be had at the next exit. Eric drove right by the off-ramp. I asked Eric why he had changed his mind....he hadn't. He thought the exit was further down the road. Several miles later, much to Eric's chagrin, we settled for Waffle House.
Chattanooga was our destination because several years earlier, Eric had a profound experience with a pastor and his congregation in Lookout Mountain, GA, which is right next to Chattanooga. Eric's aunt and uncle have a beautiful home in Chattanooga. He had promised his aunt that he would not fail to contact her if he ever found himself in that area. She and her husband Jim kindly invited us to stay with them.
We tried to find a contact number for the church as we drove but were unable to come up with a working one. We did find a website; but that actually presented additional problems. There was no longer a Friday night Bible study, and the pastor Eric previously knew was apparently no longer serving there. Up to this point, we had been blessed with assignments that seemingly just materialized, which is awesome. But this pastor and this congregation were, in a very real way, the catalyst that propelled us to action. We truly expected to at least meet with the pastor. In fact, very near our TN destination, Eric found his number and actually contacted him. He confirmed he no longer worked at the church. He asked Eric to call him back later that evening, which Eric did. His call was never returned. I must say, we were more than a bit perplexed by this. The website for the different church in the same place showed an 11 am. Sunday service. We decided to attend and see what the Lord had in store.....or so we thought.
After thanking Jim and June for their hospitality, we set out for the Sunday service. Eric's quest for the biscuit grail had not yet been achieved so we left very early. Siri cooperated. There was a Hardees close by.
We sat down after purchasing what turned out to be (sorry Eric) spectacularly mediocre breakfast sandwiches. While we were eating, Eric noticed some odd activity in front of him. I was facing the other way. Eric got out of his chair and approached an elderly man who was very troubled and unable to rise. He was rigid, gritting his teeth and clinging to his chair. Despite the fact that he resisted, Eric and another stranger (we didn't know he was a stranger until afterward), stepped up to assist. Eric commanded the demon (the stranger helping Eric shared this same perception) to leave the elderly man. Both of them prayed for the man commanding him to get up and walk in the name of Jesus. Within seconds, that's exactly what he did. I know one thing for certain; none of this would have happened if Eric had not missed his Hardees' exit two days earlier.
The more you try to walk with the Lord, the less you believe that occurrences of this sort are coincidences. Minutes later, that was confirmed. A gentleman who witnessed the healing approached our table with his family. He asked us if we had any plans to attend worship service that day. As best we could in a few moments, we tried to explain where we were headed and why. I doubt it was well conveyed; because Perry invited us to his church instead. We thanked him and told him we would discuss it and pray about it.
My take was that God doesn't put a road map like that in front of us to be ignored. Eric didn't have a strong sense either way. So we joined Perry and his brothers and sisters in Rossville, GA.
I don't know if we had an impact at the church. It's likely we never will know. We also will never know what would have happened had we "stayed the course" and gone to Lookout Mountain. I can only tell you that we're doing the best we can to follow Him and if nothing else, I think this makes a pretty good story.
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