Have you ever driven down a road you’ve never driven down before?
Most of you probably don’t know it but I do not drive – at least not well. I have had a learner’s permit for almost fifteen years. Before you think I’m nuts let me just tell you that I am the WORST driver on the face of the planet. You know those forwarded emails you get where people send pictures of drivers who get their car stuck in a doorway (why and how you ask?) or drive their car off into a corn field freaking out an unsuspecting cow? Yes – these are my long lost relatives.
When I was a girl, I remember driving my father’s yellow truck, or as my sister and I called it “The Banana”, into the side of our house, totaling my Nanny’s lawnmower and denting the siding. When my husband tried to teach me to drive when we were teenagers, I sent his red truck into reverse, thought the break was the gas, tore out the clutch and sent us inches from our demise into a thirty-foot gully. I’ve taken out mailboxes – at ten miles per hour. I’ve scratched door siding at five miles an hour. I’ve forgotten which side of the road was the right side of the road. Please assure your husbands right now – you are NOT the worst driver on the planet. I am. THAT IS ME.
I tell you that story because the one I really want to tell you is this –
Years ago, I was offered a job as youth minister in a little church in Richmond, Virginia. We spent most of our trip getting to know the church, in meetings with a company my husband would work for, filling up on delicious spaghetti prepared by the wonderful church ladies there, and looking for houses in the area. We didn’t have much time left on our last day, but before we left my husband assured me that we needed to drive down the Chesapeake Bay Bridge before we started on the long, long drive home. I’d never seen this bridge. Couldn’t be so bad, could it?
(Most of you smart people know where this is going, right?)
Oh, how fun! I thought. In Georgia our bridges are at best a football field long, but usually MUCH shorter. So when we got on this bridge – this three hour long bridge suspended IN the ocean water that went above and BELOW sea level – I wasn’t feeling very youth minister-y. I was feeling instead VERY barf-y and much like my career was going to end in the water just over the side of this thing! My memory escapes me but I think it would probably be safe to say I might have said a word not very Christ-like!
I NEVER would have driven down this bridge by myself. EVER. NEVER. Not for anything. Nothing short of God above plucking me from the couch, gluing me to the driver seat and setting the car ON the bridge much like the game of LIFE would have ever gotten me there by myself.
I can’t tell you how hard we laughed that day. Mostly at me hyperventilating and saying “I’m going to puke” more times than any human in three hours has ever uttered before. But had I known where the road would go, I wouldn’t have gotten on it. I’d have been too scared of what might happen. I would have missed my kid’s eyes light up at the steamboats and seagulls. I would have missed the sunset on Fisherman’s Island. I would have missed feeling like Moses – the Red Sea all around, but safe and dry. I would have missed my husband’s smile and an opportunity to trust not only him but God to get us to where we were going safely.
A lot of times in life I think we take the easy way out. We miss opportunities and we talk ourselves out of God’s calling on our lives because we are afraid of where the road leads, what it means to be called. What was it Spiderman said? “With great power comes great responsibility.”
It’s terrifying sometimes. (Psalm 56:3-4)
This can also be true when we are going through difficulty. We look around and before we know it we have no clue where we are going. We thought God was offering a short bridge but instead it took us miles and miles into an ocean we’d never seen on a road we’d have never chosen ourselves.
When we don’t know where the road leads there is only one thing we can do. We must trust our driver, our Heavenly Father, who always knows exactly where it leads, where it ends. (Isaiah 43:2) Don’t get so afraid of the bridges in your life that you miss the views, that you miss the people. Don’t miss the boats, the birds and the sunsets of the places God wants you to see. Don’t lose your faith.Don’t miss the journey.
I’m glad I didn’t.
Take it from me – the journey to an unknown road might just be one of the greatest rides of your life.