Several months ago, my husband Art and I began preparing for our annual “escape-the-Arizona-heat-to-cooler-California” trip. This RV trek typically combines a family reunion at Carpinteria, then several friends & family visits up the coast until we reach the Santa Cruz redwoods.
There, our dear friends, Wes and Judy Wick, carve out a place on their beautiful property for us to park our rig for a week. Precious times—full of laughter and prayer. This yearly trip usually coincides with a YES! trip to San Francisco City Impact, another summer highlight.
By the way, I’m tall. The phrase, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” is true. You might say I’m vertically challenged. Due to odd mishaps here and there, combined with neck and back strain, my body reminds me to stay on good terms with my chiropractor.
Before our departure, my chiropractor visit fell to the end of my to-do list and never happened. Several more setbacks, including RV head bumps and an unfortunate back twist, reinforced my chiropractic need. The final blow came when I succumbed to my husband’s need to fill a bracket and play in our family’s annual bocce ball contest. That did it.
I woke up the following (Monday) morning in extreme pain. Several desperate phone calls to various local doctors proved futile. The next town on our northbound trek was Paso Robles, so I expanded my online search. On my first call to a random and unknown office, the chiropractor himself answered and confirmed he had time for a morning appointment.
About an hour later, I was in a beautiful business busily filling out necessary paperwork. I heard unusual music drifting faintly from the office speakers—old-time gospel music that I grew up with and hadn’t heard for a long while.
“Your music is a surprising choice for a doctor’s office,” I commented to the receptionist. “Who selects the station?” The receptionist responded, “Well, the doctor asks that I play Christian music but today I chose this genre … it calms me.” I asked if she, too, grew up listening to this kind of music. “No, I grew up Church of Christ, where musical instruments were excluded from worship.”
“So, where do you attend church?” I inquired. “I don’t,” she replied.
“I grew up with strict rules and people’s strong opinions that caused me to reject the idea of church. For a while, to marry my husband, I joined the Catholic church and we raised our kids there, but now my husband won’t go and won’t read his Bible. We stopped going to church years ago. I just believe that I don’t need church or anyone else’s opinions to find God. I do read the Bible on a Bible app, but attend church, no.”
This began my soft probing about how important it is to be a part of a body of believers that shares our faith, with friends to walk alongside who support us in prayer. “We were never intended to do life on our own,” I reminded her.
Transitioning to their back office to sign more paperwork, the door closed behind us. This sweet office employee began to pour out her heart. Without saying it in actual words, she was clearly in a lot of emotional pain. Before this pre-appointment segment concluded, we joined hands. I prayed for her, asking God to reveal Himself, comfort her and lead her to a nurturing group of believers. I let her know that God had arranged a lot of “random” details for us to rendezvous … and He used her music selection to fan the flame.
I then met the chiropractor and learned that his name is Tige R. Griffin. He is a friendly, energetic 40ish-looking doctor and very soon we began to chat and connect like old friends. His office-music selection had already tipped me off that he was likely a believer. He confirmed that he indeed was a Christ-follower and shared that he and his family attend Atascadero First Assembly. His former pastor was an old college friend of mine. A very small world.
“What?!” we both exclaimed. He asked me what brought us up that way from Arizona. I told him of our summer and how we were en route that day to Santa Cruz, then concluding our trip Saturday with ministry in San Francisco.
“Would that possibly be with City Impact?” he asked. The doctor responded with another astonished, high-pitched ‘What?!’ as I confirmed.
“I’m joining some guys from my church for my first SF City Impact trip.” We talked about what to expect and left that subject with the hope that perhaps we would see each other there—a pretty unlikely scenario, considering close to a couple thousand volunteers are involved annually at the City Impact conference.
I also introduced him to the ministry of YES! Young Enough to Serve and explained our mission. With excitement he said, “That’s it! … my wife and I want to minister together as we get older. I didn’t know a ministry like this exists!”
Thankfully, the chiropractor’s adjustment came next. God sent me to a guy who knew his stuff! He skillfully and gently put my back and neck into alignment. For the first time in weeks I began moving without pain.
Before leaving I cautiously divulged that I had shared with his receptionist and that she had allowed me to pray for her. I relayed that she really needed Jesus and someone to come alongside her. The doctor and I then prayed for her salvation, her family, and whatever else she was in need of. He prayed for my back, and we also prayed that our trip to City Impact would be impactful.
On my way out of the office I hugged the receptionist once more and let her know that I was careful in what I had shared, but I had told her boss that she was struggling, needed Jesus, and a support group. She thanked me and I was on my way, feeling a lot better physically. I also left knowing for sure that God had orchestrated the music and ensuing conversations. He had even used my nagging back pain to direct my steps on what initially seemed like an unwelcomed detour.
As that week ended, a group from YES! headed to San Francisco’s Warfield Theater in the Tenderloin District, where volunteers first gather for worship and teaching before ministering on the streets. Just as we were about to enter the auditorium, we ran into my new chiropractor friend. I had the opportunity to introduce Tige to my husband, Art, and Wes and Judy. We talked about the goodness of God’s direction to bring us all together.
The doctor then said, “I can’t wait to tell you the rest of the story. On Tuesday my receptionist and I had a much-needed talk about some office procedures, and then, she was like a ripe piece of fruit that fell open. Right there she accepted Jesus as her Savior. Every day since then she has been excitingly texting Scripture to me and wanting to talk about God and her newfound faith.”
God can use every detail of our lives for His glory if we’ll cooperate and lean into His plan. An out-of-place back and an old gospel song led to a series of unexpected miracles.
Some of God’s best work may occur during these unplanned sidewinders, on the road to our destination. Stay alert, and appreciate the journey!
Candace Gaeta serves as the board chair for YES! Young Enough to Serve. She and her husband Art live in Gilbert, Arizona, where Art just started his third teaching job since flunking retirement in his mid-sixties.