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A Thought-provoking Experience on a Myrtle Beach Bench

13 September 2022

I am convinced that God finds ways to speak to us. One of the great challenges in this arrangement is recognizing when God is the one speaking or directing. By no means am I referring to audible communication. No, this is about the Holy Spirit connecting with our spirit and giving us thoughts that reflect what God would have us hear and act on. I had two experiences recently that, for me, reaffirmed that He speaks, but also reminded me of our need to recognize God’s interaction with us.

My Myrtle Beach Bench

On 26 August 2022, my wife calmly explained to me that she wanted to drive to Myrtle Beach and do some shopping. After stating that she was fully aware that I do not like following her around while she shops and that I do not even like shopping for myself, she invited me to join her on the trip. The truth is that I do not deal well with doing things that I really do not want to do. My first thought was to politely decline her invitation. However, she went on to offer that I would not have to shop with her; I could find a comfortable place to wait while she shopped.

In the end, I paused and sought to hear from God as to how I should respond. Counter to all my normal inclinations, I agreed to make the trip. Even though this might seem like a simple matter, I needed and wanted God’s direction.

Following what we believe to be God’s direction is not always easy and often, even if squarely in His will, the journey is still difficult. As it turned out, my wife and I had a wonderful time that day. I think the message to me was that where we seek God’s direction, recognize His response and act on it, things work out. Again, they might not always work out exactly as we want or without difficulty, but He delivers us through it all.

The rest of the story is that I do not think it was by chance that my wife gave me the opportunity to find a quiet place and wait while she shopped. She went shopping in an area of Myrtle Beach called The Market Common. The website gives the following description:

From Pottery Barn to White House Black Market and all the unique boutiques in between, there’s fun for everyone with cool restaurants, bowling, movies, a day spa and exciting family events all year round! We look forward to seeing you at The Market Common!

View from My Myrtle Beach Bench

The area was crowded, but we quickly found a parking spot. Where we parked was next to a bench that was located on the sidewalk. I settled in on the bench to wait for my wife. My plan was to read a devotion and then study the Sunday school lesson. I started the devotion. 

A few minutes later, a white lady, who said she was in her seventies, stopped and complimented me on having shined shoes. We struck up a conversation. She shared that her father introduced her to quality shoes and keeping them shined. That bit of her sharing a pleasant memory was followed by a brief education on shopping at Good Will stores. She told me how the stores are organized and how to choose those that will have the best quality items. We parted with a handshake and genuine smiles.

Then a white man and woman passed. They had a beautiful little dog. I commented, “That’s a serious dog.” The man responded, “He can make some noise.” It was a quick, but casual exchange that seemed friendly, natural.

That couple was followed by a black man and woman. We spoke and the man said, “I saw you reading the Word (Bible). You pray for us and we will pray for you.” Then he touched the end of my bench in what appeared similar to the message of a handshake; showing connection.

I went back to my reading. A white lady came walking toward me while looking down at her mobile phone. She was distracted to the point that she got within four feet of me before I looked up. She sees me and changes directions. With a smile, I say, “Those things can be dangerous.” We both smile and chuckle. Nobody is upset. All is well.

Finally, a white lady passes with a little girl who looked to be about seven years old. She is walking ahead of the trailing lady who says to the girl, in a loving tone, “Are you going to leave me?” I laugh and the lady looks back. I say, “That was funny.” The three of us laugh and a good day moves along.

Why would I, in this piece, share these experiences? The recounting of how God dealt with me in processing my wife’s invitation has been addressed; I sought God’s guidance, recognized the source and direction, then acted on what God commanded. The outcome was amazingly wonderful.

I saw the Myrtle Beach bench experience as God speaking to my troubled spirit. I have recently written about how the gravely distressed condition of our country weighs on me. My capacity for being hopeful is challenged by every newscast or printed news report because they constantly reflect the rapid decline of what has been a great nation. This condition is compounded by conversations with individuals who, in my estimation, substantially contribute to this horrific movement toward America’s destruction.

What I am describing is a dark place. Without doubt, God used that bench experience to have me see a microcosm of the millions of Americans who still represent the good in this nation. I intentionally gave the races of the people with whom I interacted from that bench. Here I was, a black man, sitting on a bench in an upscale shopping area. Every indication is that my black skin did not matter to the black couple or the white passersby with whom I spoke.

I recognize that God led me to that bench and the resulting experience is intended to help me see that there is still hope for the America that I love and appreciate so much. The question is: how will I respond to the insight that God has provided? Will I seek His further direction and act on it as I did with my wife’s invitation or will I choose some less demanding, less costly, safe, course?

This God process is not unique to me. How are you doing regarding seeking God’s direction, recognizing when He responds and acting on His commands…no matter the cost?

7 responses to “A Thought-provoking Experience on a Myrtle Beach Bench”

  1. Ezra A. Merritt says:

    Karl,
    I don’t find your experiences in Myrtle Beach either shocking or surprising. The majority of the people in this country are good law abiding citizens who share your desire to ” live and let live”. On the other hand there is a group we refer “the Media” whose life and relevance depends on distrust and hate. I pray that God will continue to reflect His spirit through you even in your leisure>

  2. Vernon Jacks says:

    Karl, in my opinion (and everybody should have one), if the news media would stop exaggerating the news, taking political sides (just report the facts) or trying to find or report news where there is none, this nation would be better off. Even to the point of reporting a man’s hand, “looking deformed, and say they consulted doctors who determine it could be this or that. Also, the news media says that 85% of the “nation or people” disagree with something they disagree with and they offer no proof, nor can they offer any; and gullible people believe this stuff without doing their own research with those “Smart Phones” most of them carry. Come on folks, do your own research, don’t believe most of what you hear or see on TV. Our Network News stations are ONLY LOOKING FOR RATINGS!!! Be blessed.

  3. John Bantsolas says:

    Nice column, Karl. It’s good to get away from the politics occasionally, although I share you belief that our country is in grave trouble. When I get really upset I turn off the news!

    Keep up the good work, – John

  4. Dear Karl, As I read your post today, I was brought to tears because of God’s goodness in answering prayer. Since your article where you mentioned the trouble in your heart about the decline we see in our Country, I have prayed daily in my quiet place for you to have peace. God answered my prayer for you during this short trip and I am glad that you shared this experience with us all. I will continue asking God to bring us all peace of mind in these troubling times. Your friend, Carter

  5. Karla Gilmore says:

    Karl, it was refreshing to know that you had an enjoyable day out. Have more. I sure hope the day concluded with an ice cream cone.

  6. Marcia Vines says:

    Continue to have hope and know that no matter how devastating the events we see or learn about what happens in our country, God is always in control!!

  7. Herman Dudley says:

    Behind the eight ball, just seeing this and it’s amazing in the men’s Bible study (today) we discussed the parable of the hidden treasure. We talked about hearing from God and recognizing His voice through a song, a friend, a conversation or just our thoughts and when we move as directed how things seem to workout in more understanding and rewarding manner.
    Glad to hear of your experience.

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