The sun illuminates the hill in front of me, bringing depth to the hues of green on its trees. This really is a beautiful drive.
It’s not the majesty of mountains or the splendor of ocean, but there is still something in this Midwest landscape that causes me to marvel at the diversity of beauty on this earth. The rise and fall of the land, the weaving of the rivers, the stretching branches of the trees. These things have a magnificence all their own.
I often forget to notice the beauty. In the many times I have made this drive, it has all become so familiar. One exit blurs into the next as I pass one semi truck after another and wonder if there is ever not construction on this road.
Then this day, the sun is at a perfect point in the horizon. It brings light to the path in front of me, without glaring too brightly in my eyes. It calls out to me to notice the landscape and enjoy the journey.
It is as if God is smiling down from heaven and blessing my voyage.
That is, until about 30 minutes from my destination. After 4 hours of clear and beautiful driving, the skies change.
The sky that was once filled with light, beckoning me to keep moving forward, is now dark, warning me with lightning strikes to stay away.
For awhile, the storm seems to taunt me. It stays next to me, without crossing my path, shaking my nerves before the danger has actually hit.
And then, with only 10 minutes of the drive to go, the clouds open up and release their contents. Solid sheets of water drop from the sky.
Suddenly, a drive that had been so simple, a drive in which I could pleasantly watch the scenery, becomes dangerous and difficult.
I am just a few miles from my destination, but I cannot see more than 2 feet in any direction. The tail lights of the car in front of me are the only thing giving me confidence that I am still on the road.
I consider stopping, but I am on a road with no shoulder. I consider turning around, but I am on a divided highway. And even if I could turn around, the storm now has me surrounded.
My best option is to keep on driving.
So, I slow down. I sit taller. I grit my teeth. I grip the wheel. And I keep moving until I reach where I know I need to go.
I don’t go through the storm because I am on the wrong road. I go through the storm because the weather changed. And in order for me to stay on the right road, I have to accept that, and drive through.
Being on the right path does not guarantee us safety.
There is a cliché that used to be common in Christian circles. That “the safest place to be is in the center of the will of God.”
That phrase might make us feel good for awhile, but there’s a slight problem. It’s completely untrue.
The Bible is filled with verses that point, in fact, to the opposite. That to follow Jesus means to give up our control and take up our cross. We can expect to face trials and persecution.
So how do we do handle it when storms come?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. – Hebrews 12:1-3
We can be trembling with fear, but still find the strength to give the wheel a white-knuckle grip and keep on driving. In the midst of our worries, fears, hardships, and unknowns, God can help us persevere.
Have you faced circumstances when a path that seemed clear and bright suddenly changed? How did you handle it?