Friday night, I had planned to go watch the Sylva Bay Saints (my alma mater) play football at East Rankin Academy. For whatever reason, I was under the impression that East Rankin was in Brandon- right off highway 80. I should go ahead and self-disclose a little more... um, I played basketball at East Rankin many times in high school and junior high. (But, in my defense, I was never driving.)
So, I had already planned to get there after the game began. I knew I wouldn't make it on time. I didn't plan to. As planned, I went to El Sombrero's in Clinton with some friends, finished up and headed out around 7:15- to hopefully get there around 7:45- before half-time. Heading east on I-20, the yellow lines blurred past and "Money Matters" kept me in deep thought, my imagination chasing metaphorical rabbits between "callers". Then, just before my exit, something told me to check with Mama and make sure I was headed to the right place. Well, thank you for that thought, Lord.
"No, honey. East Rankin is all the way to Pelahatchie!" Mama said. "You know. We used to go there to play basketball," she laughed. Well, I guess I DID know. Once upon a time. But not anymore I suppose. So- I had to make a quick decision. Was I going to stay committed to the course- and go the extra miles? Pelahatchie sounded a few too many miles away- and neither Mama or Daddy (I called him to get more specific directions) could tell me exactly how far. I was already going to be late- and now I would be really late. "Is this even worth it?" I asked myself. "Uggh. I should just turn around and go back home."
But, I had told my sister, who I'm sure had told my 5-year-old niece, whom I did not want to disappoint, that I was coming to meet them at the game. Now I wonder if I would have made such a commitment had I known the distance.
So. I just kept driving.
Daddy wasn't able to tell me exactly where to turn and how far it would be, but I knew the general direction. I knew there would be a Pelahatchie exit off I-20, and I told myself I would just look for the lights of the football field. (Gas stations can throw a person off by the way). So onward I went, determined to keep my commitment and hopeful that I would get to spend some good quality time with Sydney (my niece), see my nephew, Hawk, and show some support to the Saints. I never know how Syd is going to act toward me. Most times, it takes her a while to warm up and "let me in". She may not even want to see me much at all with all the fun things to do at a ballgame, I thought to myself.
Nonetheless, I kept driving.
Pelahatchie exit, back under the Interstate, toward the lights.
As disappointed as I was at the score, and as much as I would like for our team to win, that wasn't what had brought me all the way there. I had made a decision in my mind to come- and I felt I had committed to Sydney that I would be there to play with her. I wasn't sure, but if she thought I was coming, I didn't want to let her down.
Then, after the game, waiting for her Mama to help feed the football team homemade sandwiches, we had the best time playing. Pretending like I was the nurse and she had a hurt leg, I had to put my watch on her leg as a brace, laughing as I called in for assistance on "her cellphone", eating ice for her medicine- we had a ball. I carried her on my back, played "follow the leader" with her to the concession stand to buy her a ring-pop and a pixy stick, and even taught her the firecracker cheer. We had a good ole time!
Those moments are far too rare these days. So I treasure them. She is growing growing, and soon she won't care to play as much with her Aunt Lacy. But that night, we played and laughed, and time seemed to be multiplied as our laughter lingered and moments slowed down. I slowed down. And I absorbed them.
And I was thankful I had chosen in a split second to keep driving- to go the extra miles. It would have been easy to turn around a drive home. But, without guarantee of how I would be received by Syd, I chose to keep driving. And I'm sure glad I did.
Lord, let me not let moments pass by. Moments to love and to give. Give me strength to hold fast to commitments and to go the extra mile when it is required. You added back to me and graced me with joy that made my journey worthwhile. Bring this to mind when needed, Father. Amen