I am caught up in the great white of the winter sky falling down in divagating flakes around me. Such a squall blows up when I mount the Fort Pitt Bridge to leave the city that it is nearing whiteout conditions. When I turn on my wipers and spray the windshield with fluid, the liquid creates a frozen sheen in front of me—further compromising my line of vision. Is it any wonder that I see the sign for 376 West too late—across two lanes of traffic? Might as well be a thousand miles between me and that ramp so I doggedly move forward onto 279N—the exact opposite direction in which I want to go.
Before I even get started on the journey home I drive 25 miles out of my way. In a dizzying, blinding snowstorm.
I call my husband to tell him of the recent developments and he reminds me that the tires on my van are not the greatest. Please be careful, he says. So I am—I crawl along in the mind-numbing white and try to feel the ground beneath me.
But this disappointment in the weather runs deeper than slow-moving traffic and extended travel time—for I had wanted to stop and see a friend on the way home. A friend I’ve never met but one who has kept me company in thought for a year now. I glimpsed her last year at this same time—on my way to this same conference. She gazed long at me from a hillside along the interstate…all whitewashed and full of stories. I’ve regretted not stopping to see her for a full year now. Thought of her from time-to-time, wondering who she belonged to. What lives inside her belly.
So I told God we would stop to see her this year—just the two of us. And we would drive casually by to see if she extends an invitation to come closer.
But I can barely see a few feet in front of me right now and so I’m thinking this is God’s way of saying “no”.And who knows why He would, really? Maybe it’s dangerous or rude or maybe the road will get too treacherous if I stop or maybe there is some other unseen risk that I can never imagine. I’m feeling a little nervous about stopping anyway so it’s not that hard to accept this little “no”—it’s not that hard to imagine driving right by.
I’m feeling pretty good about the whole thing and I let my mind drift to all the ways God revealed himself at Jubilee—in the faces of the people I met and shared with, in art and music and prayers and the words of speakersand in time just sitting with friends. So many who wore the face of God—who bore His image well. My mind is a stone, heavy with all that I experienced and my heart wants to spill it out all over this minivan.
And I remember how one of the speakers talked about risky faith. How—if we believe in the hope of restoration—it will change the way we do everything. I think of how I long to go to Haiti or some other far off place to see God in the faces of distant brothers and sisters—how my life feels too small for that to ever happen. I think of how I almost took that sponsorship packet but let fear stop me in the end. How everything always comes down to money—and isn’t God bigger than that? Won’t He find a way?
How will I ever do the big things, Lord, if I’m too scared to even stop and look at a barn?
Just then the sun comes out and the snow stops swirling and I can see her exit coming into sight. And I recognize God in that time of wrestling and I see how He honors the struggle. The way He comes alongside me makes my eyes well with tears and I gently guide my minivan off the interstate and onto this little winding road that runs parallel.
The snow may have stopped but the wind still blows frigid air and I tromp through mud and climb a hillside and hold onto fence posts to get a closer look. I run up the road in the freezing just to see in her windows. And I keep looking over my shoulder wondering if I’m crazy but I’m not alone. My fingers are nearing purple and my boots are caked with mud when I finally say goodbye and climb back in the minivan.
As I edge back onto the interstate with flushed cheeks and a runny nose, I wonder about what I just learned.
And I ask God to help me be braver.
Over at The High Calling today, we are continuing our discussion of Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor. Join us?
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him.