Thursday, January 18, 2007

Journey Graces

Coty and I have VERY different styles when it comes to travel plans. I like to have everything packed early, clean the house, and leave with plenty of time to spare. He is usually working up to the last minute, throwing things in a suitcase, and not leaving until absolutely necessary. I get to my destination with time to spare but make everyone crazy in the process. He gets to his destination when he needs to be there and no one is ruffled....except me because I'm worrying about whether or not he'll get make it to the airport on time! He has never missed a plane.

Well, this trip to Tennessee was a perfect example of the clash of our styles. It was also an opportunity for me to trust my husband and ultimately to trust God. It was also a lesson in cultivating the attitude and demeanor that testify to that trust. Here's what happened...

Yesterday, when I heard the weather forecast for today, I started thinking that perhaps I should leave last night, drive two hours to Mama and Daddy's, spend the night there, and have more leeway this morning. I'd avoid driving during Charlotte rush hour on icy roads and give myself a big time cushion. Coty agreed that it was a good idea, but didn't think it was necessary. Thomas didn't want to leave last night since he had plans with some friends and wasn't packed. I wasn't really ready either, but figured I could get ready if I had to. I would leave a few things undone at home that I wanted to get done before I left, but I'd have the peace of mind of getting a jump on the journey and not have to worry about the weather and road conditions.

Thomas and my unreadiness won out. I stayed home from small group to finish ironing some clothes, write out school assignments, clean my room (remember, I have to clean before I leave), and finish meal preparations for the guys remaining at home. I went to bed late, worrying about the drive.

When I heard the sleet start at 6:30 this morning, I was really mad at myself and irritated with everyone else who hadn't urged me to leave last night. I was ready to get everything in the car and GO!!! I turned on the radio and heard about the numerous traffic accidents and was fuming. "Aaaaaargh...why didn't I leave last night?! Hurry up, Thomas. We need to LEAVE!!"

Coty calmly said, "I wouldn't leave til 10. That way the roads will be more traveled on and the rush hour accidents cleared up."

My hackles went up but I knew I needed to give in. So, I resigned myself to leaving later. "Whatever," I replied, in what could NOT be described as a sweet, submissive, "you are a wise husband" tone of voice.

But, despite my attitude and fretfulness, I WAS trying to trust God. I kept telling myself, "God knows all about this. God knows I'm leaving at 10. God knows what the weather's doing. God knows if I will crash into another car. God is in control. God knows and God is good. Even if I'm in a wreck, all this will work for my good." Notice, I was still assuming the worst was likely to happen, but I was trying.

It truly does help to preach to myself. I kept reminding myself of these very simple truths - God is sovereign, God is good, God is powerful. I think the rubber really meets the road in times like this and you either show that you really believe these truths or you show yourself to be lacking in faith and on the way to skidding on the ice of unbelief, as it were.

It also helps to remind myself that my children are watching. Like it or not, I will leave them with an impression that will either draw them toward God and teach them sweet truths, or make a sham of the things I say I believe but don't live out in front of them, giving them reason to doubt God. It is sobering to think that your actions will be remembered by others. I admit, here I got a bit morbid. I kept thinking to myself, "Well, you wouldn't want your children's last thoughts of you before you die in a traffic accident on an icy road to be of a grouchy, angry, frazzled mother." Such thoughts, morbid and self-centered as they are, work wonders.

I surrendered my worries, surrendered my irritation, surrendered my fear. I prayed for the right heart attitude and the right loving words with my family. God was gracious. Thomas scraped the thick ice off the windshield. Coty and the boys helped us carry our bags to the car. We had happy hugs all around with my customary admonition to the guys to "be sweet, help each other, and clean up."

We saw one accident - a pretty bad one (God have mercy on the occupant of the smashed pickup) - on the ramp onto 85 from 29. That was it. We never slipped, we never skidded, we never waited in slow traffic. We tooled along listening to Switchfoot and whatever else Thomas has on his MP3 player. Thomas read The Princess and the Goblin to me. We stopped for lunch and we made it to Covenant in plenty of time, safe, relaxed and happy.

What did I learn?
That I am weak, fearful, and prone to fret needlessly.
That God uses every situation to teach me to trust Him.
That God has given me a wise husband whose counsel and guidance, even in travel matters , can be trusted.
That God will enable me to walk in belief, not slip and slide in unbelief.

Well, I didn't really learn these things. I really already knew them. But God gave me an opportunity to be stretched, and to trust. He showed me my weak self and held me in His strong arms. He answered prayers for traveling mercies and he taught me to have journey graces - words and actions that demonstrate that on every road, smooth or bumpy, icy or clear, He can be always be trusted.

"My [daughter] do not forget my teaching...Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:1,5,6


Kelly said...

Praise the Lord for teaching us at times like these!

It sounds like you did have a nice relaxing trip out to TN. We'll be praying for Thomas' interviews today.

Coty said...

"Hitherto hath the Lord helped us" - even to Lookout Mountain.

You are a sweet, beautiful, and wise woman.

Love, Coty

Nicole said...

Beth - we are a lot alike in this area! I'm glad you made it there safely and that God continues to remind us that He and He alone is sovereign!