I live out in the country in a “bedroom community”, a small town about 10-12 miles outside of Bowling Green. It’s called a bedroom community because it’s mainly just a town of homes. Everyone who is not a farmer works and shops in Bowling Green. When driving to the Homeless Outreach Ministry at the bridge, I can either go one way and end up in town on the main roads and either drive on or next to the highway or I can go the back way and drive the curvy back roads with the tilled farm land on either side holding fresh sown seeds in the spring and in the fall either tall corn stalks or thick tobacco or soy beans filling the scenery.
Along these roads come the smell of fresh rolled hay bales and sometimes you can get a whiff from the chicken houses.
These back roads are my favorite way to travel to the bridge.
I’m a country girl at heart and I love the smells of country land and the sights of many barns sitting here and there amongst the trees, wildflowers, horses and cows. And sometimes a barn sits out there all by its lonesome dressed in either new wood and fresh barn red paint or dressed in worn, dilapidated boards missing most of its color, even missing some it’s planks where the sunlight streams in and out.
Driving the back roads is peaceful to me and the 30 minute drive gives me time to think and pray for our bridge guests and volunteers. My jeep tires have driven these roads many times and they must know the route by now all by themselves as there have been many times I have arrived at the bridge not really remembering the drive at all because I was engrossed in my thought and in my prayers. I guess driving safely and pondering at the same time comes with age, thank goodness. Or the good Lord is watching over me.
I don’t take my visits to the bridge lightly. There are people coming each week that need to see a smile, need to be welcomed with a friendly hello, need to be ministered to in some way; some want prayer. They need to hear an uplifting word. They need to see that someone cares. And so I spend those 30 minutes in the car praying for myself and the other volunteers who many are coming from their 8-9 hour jobs. I pray for us to be refreshed, feeling good, and ready to step outside of ourselves and filled with the Holy Spirit, ready to graciously welcome our guests. And I pray for our guests to feel welcomed and to receive whatever it is they need at that time, whether that be a hug, a word, a prayer, or just want to tell someone about their day.
God fills me out there on the back roads and I lap it up eagerly. As I and the others receive, we are able to give, thank goodness as there are always those who come who are thirsting for grace. God always supplies. This has become home away from home and my second family. I am always ready to see them. And there is always someone if not a few who offer me the hug, the encouraging word, asking me about my day, offering grace.
As I drive back down those country roads going home for the evening, I am grateful and thanking God for His abundant provisions of so many things. As I pass the fields and the barns, I realize how invigorated I feel by being at the bridge with my friends and second family. And I think the back roads have something to do with it also. I may be driving, but I’m also smiling as I see the images of grace playing out that evening in my mind. Thank goodness there isn’t much traffic on the back roads! Occasionally I come upon a farmer inching his way down the road on this tractor. He is easy to pass and he always waves with a smile and I wave back.
God supplies so many gifts on those back roads. His beautiful creatures that nay and bray and honk and bark and meow and bellow; colorful wildflowers growing up a fence post, the sweet smell of hay, the friendly farmer. As I pull into my driveway, I thank my Lord for the blessings of these gifts and once again for grace.
As the sun goes down over the Kentucky hills of my home I think to myself, "I can’t wait to go again the next week to do it all over again."