Hair pin turn after hair pin turn, I sucked air threw my nose, holding it for several seconds before releasing it along with either a prayer or a plea for him to “please slow down.” In his defense, he wasn’t speeding. But still, I was afraid.
We were on our way back to the little mountain town where we’d honeymooned, only this time, to celebrate our ten-year anniversary. Between work responsibilities and child care arrangements, we only had a couple of days for our trip, but we were excited nonetheless. In order to sandwich as much time as we could into our getaway, we left as soon as my husband got off from work, which meant we’d be traveling during the evening.
At the time we made this decision, it didn’t seem like an issue at all–a nice quiet drive, just the two of us. However, I began to question our judgement as we made our way closer and closer to our destination. Little by little, the hills turned to mountains, the wide roads became narrow, and the deep ravine on my side of the car got deeper and deeper.
The skies turned from lavender to ebony, with only the headlights to point the way forward, and I began to wish for daylight.
Now, on the whole, I’ve always considered my husband to be a good driver, albeit a bit slow. On occasion, I’ve even been known to quip that “We could Flintstone our way there faster” when I felt he was driving particularly slow. But on this night, my right hand gripped the side of the door so tightly that I’m sure my knuckles were white had I been able to see them.
On our left, just inches from the road and as high as our bright lights could illumine, was the solid rock face of the mountain. On my right was what can only be described as a black abyss, as the gorge dropped further and further down. It felt as though only inches on either side separated us from calamity.
And as we twisted and turned our way through the darkness, feeling anxious and afraid with every turn of the road, I couldn’t help but notice the parallel between my life and my relationship with God.
So often I want God to give me wide open spaces, gentle breezes, and mountain top views without the hard work of the climb or the broken sojourning of the valley. I want my path illumined before me, clearly marking the best laid plans, mitigating any risk for failure, hardship, or struggle.
In short, I want the long range plan—the “perfect” long range plan.
But much like our headlights on that dark night, God often shows us the next step…not the next mile. And much like that dark night, we often feel hard pressed on every side. There are financial pressures, challenges within our families, trials of every kind, and the deepest sorrows. The darkness can seem to surround us, causing us to keep a white-knuckled grip on our plans and our ways in the hopes of controlling what we still fail to realize is ultimately uncontrollable…our life.
And it’s in this fierce battle for control, that we run the risk of missing the view from the mountain top. We run the risk of missing the blessings God has in store.
In our fear, we may shrink back, refusing to go any further until the way forward is crystal clear for miles ahead. In our uncertainty, we may stop in our tracks, and begin looking at maps and or asking others for direction, certain someone or something can give us better advice—a better plan. And ultimately we can get far off course because we refuse to give our path, our way, to the Way-maker.
You know, looking back, it was important to know that the mountain was there on our left. Knowing the ravine was immediately on my right was also critical. But interestingly enough, as scary as they were, I didn’t need either to move. I simply needed to stay on my path, stay on course, and follow the light in front of me. Because that light, led us to a beautiful destination.
Pressures will come in life. Difficult times and uncertain futures will plague us all, and we may find ourselves maneuvering the twists and turns of life with a white-knuckled death grip, wrestling with God over the perceived lack of direction or the unsuitable surroundings.
And if we’re not careful, we’ll miss out on some of the very best views…views that can only be seen from first navigating the valley, views that can only be seen from the arduous work of the climb, views that can only be seen from following the path God lays before us.
One faithful step at the time.
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11