The second day of our drive from Massachusetts to Oklahoma is burned into my memory. It was challenging to say the least.
It was my turn to ride in the truck with Dad, so that was fun. The truck gave me another perspective of the road. We were so high! Another blessing was being with my father. I felt I had lost him the day before, so it was comforting to be with him all day. Most of the day went alright.
The evening was a different story and had enough unpleasantness to last me my entire life. We had driven late into the night long after we had exceeded our own strength. My mom and dad were affected most. The truck had to be turned in on a certain date, and we were running out of time.
We were all tired and worn out from the day before – mentally, physically, and emotionally. I think both of my parents were at their weakest points that day, and the situation only worsened as the day wore on. Exhaustion and confusion set in; the fruit of the Spirit was not always fully evident. I am thankful that God’s goodness and mercy followed us that Tuesday night. We could not have survived without it.
One problem we struggled with during our trip was the inflexibility of the truck. Our white car was attached to the back of the truck through the use of a trailer. We were incapable of backing up. We always had to know exactly where we were going and if there was enough room to turn around without backing up.
The situation had been annoying when making stops for meals and fuel, but we were in serious trouble in the hills of Kentucky.
We continued our drive until we were too tired to go any further. My dad started keeping an eye out for hotel signs. We drove many miles and eventually spotted a motel sign. As our little caravan exited the highway, we passed what my dad thought was an abandoned or closed motel, believing the real lodge was farther down the road. Instead, we found ourselves traveling deeply into the dark midnight mountains of Kentucky.
Nothing else looked anything like a hotel, however, so we decided to turn around. The road was narrow, and our truck was long. Finding a place to turn around was not an easy feat. We finally spotted what looked like a clearing off the side of the road. Dad turned onto it and tried to turn the truck around. There wasn’t enough room, and we were forced to unhook the car trailer before reversing the truck.
We thought the worst was over, and Dad pulled out of the clearing to turn back onto the road. The truck backed up slowly. I felt a lurch. The wheels lifted off of the ground. We were on the edge of a steep embankment!
It happened so fast. Dad gunned the engine. Mom screamed “JESUS” at the top of her lungs. The wheels jolted back to the ground and grabbed at the ground to pull us back onto level ground.
God was merciful that night. We didn’t deserve to be spared. We hadn’t been acting in a way that glorified God. Our attitudes were not Christ-like. He was merciful, and my family was given another chance. We were blessed with a clearer understanding of how precious and fragile life is and how reliant on Him we must be. We never grow out of needing His help, and we must not let fatigue and exhaustion get in the way of practicing the fruit of the Spirit.
I won’t forget that night. It continues to remind me that God is faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness. He is the loving Father that cared enough about us to chastise us, save us, and show us the way ahead.
Our adventures weren’t over that Tuesday night ten years ago. We still had to get back on the road, reattach the trailer, find lodging, and unpack the luggage. It was a long night, but I know we approached the situation more prayerfully, and we finished the day as a team – a tighter family unit than before.
I remember lying on my sleeping bag that night staring with wide open eyes into the dark as I struggled to go to sleep. It took awhile for me to see past the fear and confusion and recognize God’s goodness in that situation. After all, it wasn’t a good day in the way we usually think of “good” days. It was difficult, unpleasant, and anything but nice. Yet, over time, I have begun to see how God’s hand of mercy was holding us. He got us past that night and gave us a beautiful beginning the next morning.
For he will command his angels concerning youto guard you in all your ways.On their hands they will bear you up,lest you strike your foot against a stone.You will tread on the lion and the adder;the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;I will protect him, because he knows my name.When he calls to me, I will answer him;I will be with him in trouble;I will rescue him and honor him.With long life I will satisfy himand show him my salvation.”Psalm 91:11-16