Pickup trucks are great for hauling mulch, bales of straw and animal feed. They aren’t good for carrying things that are rain-sensitive. My girls and I were headed home from North Carolina. We had been there for two weeks to help my mother-in-law, who is in advanced stages of terminal brain cancer. My husband had taken the week off from work to care for his mom, so we could manage things back home for a few days. My forest green F150 was loaded to the gills. A twin size cot, complete with mattress, four soft-shell suitcases, a trunk of books and school supplies, lap top computer and bag of laundry filled the back. We probably looked like the Beverly Hillbillies. My girls sat in the small back seats of the extended cab with a hamster cage between them, which contained Daisy, our Robo-Dwarf hamster, no bigger than a jumbo cotton ball. Every space around them was packed with pillows, beloved stuffed animals and a small suitcase of toys.
The front seat contained a crock of sourdough starter, completely swaddled in a blanket and seat belted in like a small person. “Sally” as we called her (it?) started as a school project over a year ago. She has faithfully produced delicious biscuits, pancakes and bread, and has achieved a “pet-like” status in our household. Something that has to be stirred (or exercised, as we call it), and fed weekly can’t remain inanimate for long in the imaginative minds of children. Leaving her at home for an unsure period of time might have resulted in her demise, and that wasn’t an option, as far as my kids were concerned. So, just like the pioneers did, we carried our sourdough starter along for the journey.
With Frosty, our Bischon Frise, crouched beside me, we said our farewells and started off. My father-in-law had mentioned earlier, “You might get some rain on the way.” That, somehow, didn’t sink in at the time. I was more concerned about finding my way home. Sounds silly, I know, especially when I admit the fact I’ve made that journey many times in the last 11 years. My husband, however, is usually the one who drives; and everyone who knows me agrees that I am navigationally challenged when on the road. (Melissa, if you’re reading this, you understand. We both have the same genetic handicap.) I have a natural sense of direction in the woods, but alas, not on highways. When Melissa and I drive somewhere together, our husbands joke that they may never see us again.
Twenty miles out, I noticed that the sky ahead of us was darkening rapidly. Not, mind you, from approaching nightfall. Was the trunk that held the school books and supplies truly waterproof? Visions of a soaked mattress, ruined computer, soggy clothes and waterlogged school supplies danced in my head. I called my husband.
“It looks like it’s going to pour,” I told him. “Are there any tarps in the tool box?”
“I don’t think so,” he said. “Let me check the radar and I’ll get back to you.”
I didn’t need radar. The coming storm was written in black and white (well, black, mostly) across the sky.
“We’re heading back, girls,” I said. ” The sky is clear that way. Maybe we can make it back to Grandpa’s before the rain gets us.” I took the next exit.
Good idea; except now I didn’t know where I was, exactly. I turned around and got on the interstate I thought would take us back to Grandpa’s and called my husband again.
“Where are you?” Brian asked. I could honestly say I wasn’t sure. “Use your phone,” he replied. He got me a smart phone with a Google map program after the last time I got lost, hundreds of miles away from him.
Using the phone is all well and good, if you can see the screen, that is. You must understand that when a contact lens wearer (me) reaches a certain age, contacts only work for distance, not close up. I do have “readers” for close up seeing , but they were in my survival bag, buried somewhere, probably under the extra hamster bedding and food.
I’ll spare you the details; but will just say that now my husband has figured out a way to track me, by satellite, through my phone, so he knows where I am, even if I don’t. I feel like a sea turtle with a transmitter on my fin. It is nice to be loved.
Once headed back, the storm folded around us and the rain we were trying to avoid came at us with a vengeance. I took another exit and pulled under the awning of a gas station. I tossed Frosty into the back seat. He, at least was happy, now being inches away from Daisy, tasty morsel that she was. While that drama played out, I crammed suitcases into the passenger side of the front. There were, thankfully, tarps in the tool box. I grabbed them and did my best to tuck them around the folding cot. My oldest daughter had arranged Frosty’s ears in some kind of an up-do and held him high in the back window for me to admire. I’m ashamed to say I glared at my lovely girl and cute dog as the wind tried to rip the tarp out of my hands.
There was much more, but you get the picture. We made it back to our starting point, determined to try again tomorrow morning. It just wasn’t meant for us to journey home that night.
As children of God, we are all on a journey.
Luke 9:23: Then He said to them all, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
“If” we choose Him, we have blessings beyond our imagining, although they are often not what we expect. If we choose Him, there are consequences: those that He supplies (such as eternal life and His presence in us) and those that we must attend to, which come as directives. One is:
Deny self: We need to recognize that our life, once given to Him, is no longer ours. We don’t call the shots, He does. It’s not about what we get, it’s about what we can give and how we can serve. It’s about putting others first. It’s about honoring them more than we do ourselves. It’s about washing feet. It’s about sacrifice.
How do we do all that? Be open to the philosophy, first. That’s a pivotal step. You have to be willing. Then, ask God to help you in your weaknesses. Trust Him to supply what you can’t muster by yourself. He is faithful.
Deny self. Show love. Serve. Wash feet. It’s what Jesus did. It’s what He calls us to do. In Him, we become able.
Digest: John 13:1-17; Ephesians 5: 1-2, Philippians 4:13
Check back to check in with the last two directives.