The Tuggles

Episode 2: The Bathroom

November 1, 2017

It was a humid Sunday morning on July 4th weekend and I had an extra bounce in my step walking through the church doors. Today I would see Tim and Lynn Tuggle again. After almost two years since we first met, I had diligently followed their cross-country trek on Facebook and excitedly celebrated with them long distance when they completed their journey a couple of months prior. Now they were joining us again in Indiana to share more of their incredible stories, this time with our whole congregation.

Finishing up sound checks with the worship team, I heard the front doors of the church open and fall shut, followed by my mother’s friendly greeting voice. Looking over, I saw my mom introducing my older sister to Lynn and I headed to the back of the room. As I walked up, I caught Lynn’s eye and she turned to Momma and said, “Now this one I remember.”

I couldn’t explain it then, and hardly now, but the look in her eye as she reached in to hug me was such that gripped something deep in my spirit. As though to surface a connection between kindred spirits formed two years ago that had been silently strengthening day by day entirely beneath my consciousness. That same stirring that awakened in me during our first conversation was rising back up as though it had never left; as if I had been riding with them ever since.

For nearly two hours Tim and Lynn testified of their witness to God’s powerful encounters on the road, and dare I say no watch or clock was consulted in that room. Every testimony they released provoked deep, personal challenge for every individual and left everyone wanting a little more.

After church, we stood around talking for a while and Tim resumed what he started two years ago by making slight and subtle, half-joking comments that presumed I would soon be traveling with them. Ever the jokester that he is, I just laughed it off. My parents invited them out to lunch with us and I made a quick trip to the restroom before we left. Sitting there in that one-stall bathroom, I held a 30-second reflection on the morning and the last two years, leading to a curious question heavenward:

Lord, what is this You keep stirring in me with this couple? If there is something more to this than mere inspiration, You will have to show me.

For anyone who may be thinking that God is too holy to be approached while on the toilet, allow me to postulate He rather quite enjoys showing up with revelation in weird places.

I stepped in front of the mirror to wash my hands, taking no real thought to pause and ponder if He might choose to answer my question right away, when suddenly a crisp response virtually thundered within my soul with no ambiguity.

You are going to go with them and you are going to write their book.

The ice cold water rushing over my hands sent a frozen shockwave throughout my entire system and I literally laughed out loud at the absurdity of such a thought.

“Ha! Yeah right!” I outwardly exclaimed, laughing in derision. “You did not just tell me that. That was not God.” I stared at myself, wide-eyed in the mirror with a look of bewilderment. I wrote it off to be as ludicrous as praying while peeing. Or talking and laughing to oneself in a single-stall bathroom.

That wasn’t God. Nope. Couldn’t be. Ridiculous.

But then, I thought… what if it was it real?

I dried off my hands and looked up at the 1960s tiled bathroom ceiling.

If that was actually You, I said internally, You are going to have to really show me. Like, write-it-in-the-sky show me.

Forty-five minutes later I sat down across from Lynn at Bob Evans, my mom seated next to me.

I’m just going to get this out of the way right now, I thought. No use wondering about it.

“So, Lynn,” I lightheartedly began. “When are you guys going to write a book about your story?” The ears at the table perked up and glanced at the two of them in anticipation of a response. She looked at me and smiled.

“Well, first we need somebody to write it for us. Maybe somebody like you.”

I am most certain that my jaw would have literally hit the floor if there had not been a table there to catch it. I gawked at her, in complete and utter shock at her suggestion.

Before any response could be had, Momma excitedly chimed in next to me, “She’s a writer!” She grabbed my arm and shook it as she spoke.

If you haven’t noticed, this mother of mine always winds up right in the middle of all the action somehow.

The shaking didn’t stop. “I’ve always told her she would write a book someday! She could absolutely write your book!” Her gaze shifted back and forth between me and the horsemen couple, cheerfully waiting for the thrill of it all to strike us to the same depth as it was her. I gaped at her with silent disapproval of her unwelcomed interjection. I had fully expected Lynn or Tim to steer the course of the conversation very evidently far away from my uncomfortable bathroom conversation with God and confirm the awkward internal exchange as presumable indigestion. Instead it boomeranged back in my face and now here was my mom, slathering the icing onto the cake of my confoundedness.

What was happening?

I had a running dialogue with God going on behind the scenes of our lunch conversation. By the end of the meal my mind was reeling with more answered prayers than I knew what to do with. No sooner than I would silently pose a very specific question to God than one of them would open their mouths and give me the answer. Every single question. Not only were my questions being answered, but every other comment out of Tim’s mouth was dripping with the presupposition that I would be joining them in their travels soon.

“And this is where Christie will sleep,” Tim said slyly as he flipped through his iPad’s pictures of the horse trailer’s living quarters, recently gifted from generous hearts in Oklahoma at the close of their horseback journey. He glanced over at me with a sheepish grin, like he could hear every thought in my head.

I swallowed, unnerved.

This was just supposed to be a nice, friendly get-together after a powerfully moving church service. Not a day of re-evaluating my future. God sure knows how to screw up plans. And apparently He enjoys getting things started in the Unholy of Unholies. You know that veil was torn if God shows up speaking to you in the bathroom.

As our time together came to a close, chairs were pushed in and embraces exchanged from one to another. Tim hugged me and leaned in close.

“You really should pray about coming with us,” he said, intently holding my gaze.

I looked back at him, growing numb to the continuous shock that seemed to have permanently overtaken my system. “Believe me,” I replied, “I’ve been praying.”

  

 

In front of Bob Evans.

 

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