Headlights lit the street beside me, then a car puttered past and turned onto a side street in front of me. The driver braked at the first driveway, reversed course, and halted at the stop sign. The sedan blocked my path, so I stood still and waited for the motorist to figure out where he wanted to go. It turned out that I was the one who was “lost”.
A thirtyish man wearing a white shirt and a dark tie leaned out of the car window, smiled, and said hello. I thought that he would ask for directions, but he said, “I’ve got something for you.” “What?” I demanded suspiciously. (On a dark night, I had encountered few dogwalkers, and that section of the road was dimly lit. There was no one around to witness underhanded deeds.) He held out a thin piece of folded paper and said, “A tract.” I waved him away impatiently. I expect to take a walk in my neighborhood, while minding my own business, without harassment from a fanatic. Then, seeing that I had no intention of taking his pamphlet, he said grimly, “Your only hope is Jesus.” His words sounded like a threat. I expected him to launch into a chapter and verse sermon, but the creep pulled away. I retorted to the receding taillights, “Oh lucky me.”
I hurried home while keeping a watchful eye out for the would-be missionary. Perhaps Jesus would speed my feet safely along the route before the driver turned around and tried to recruit me in cruder ways. “Save me Lord!” I prayed.
I told my wife about the encounter and added that I had had two other mishaps while walking at night. A month before, I had tripped on a raised section of sidewalk and went sprawling into the grass. I skinned a knee and the palms of my hands. A few weeks later, I bumped my head hard on a low hanging tree branch. I had been studying the sidewalk carefully to avoid another spill and failed to consider a threat from above. The resulting tender lump hurt intensely whenever I forgot and scratched my head.
Judy describes herself as a problem solver. She gave me a prescription for preserving my physical and spiritual wellbeing: avoid walking at night. I think that she’s right. Sometimes nature, and God, send signals. Three mishaps in the space of a month constitute an ample warning. Perhaps Jesus is telling me to stay home after dark.