THE ELONGATED TRIP

It is no secret that I have a bad sense of direction. When I got lost in Lowe’s after asking directions to the restroom, I was reminded of a trip I took over 30 years ago when I [again] went in the wrong direction.

At the time, I was a single parent of two early elementary school children. I had graduated from law school in May and had taken the two-day bar examination the day before this trip. In fact, the purpose of this trip was to let me unwind before rejoining the children who had stayed out-of-state while I prepared for and took the test. The problem was that after the test, I felt as though I had experienced a “mental enema”. And, I was sure that I had failed.

I left the rental house in Knoxville to visit friends in Bristol, Tennessee about 120 miles away. I was supposed to arrive in time for lunch, so I left about 9:00 in the morning for an arrival time well ahead of the lunch hour.

The directions said to travel on I75/I40 to I81. My friend’s directions were accurate and I would have been there well before noon if I had followed them – but I didn’t pay attention and found myself at the Tennessee/Kentucky state line.     ? ! ?

The kind lady at the welcome center said that to get to Bristol, I should “go to Knoxville and then take I81.” I was embarrassed to say that I lived in Knoxville, so I said I had just come from there.   Her response was that I could take I75 to Corbin and then take Route 25 and 23 over to Gate City, which runs into Bristol. She said it with the implicit inference that either way would be fine. No real difference between them – you pick!

Not wanting to backtrack, I began the trek to Corbin, after using a pay phone (no cell phones back then) to call my friends to say that I was in Kentucky and would be a little late for lunch. It was at that time about 12:30 p.m.

As I drove, it became apparent that this was no Interstate – it was a highway through the mountains, with steep drop offs on the side and, more importantly, no civilization in sight. Just road and mountains.

TN KY Vista

With all the tension and emotion that I had experienced in the prior 48 hours, I broke down, crying and talking to the Lord as I drove. It went something like this:

“Lord, I tried my hardest but I failed You because now I flunked the bar exam. I’m overqualified for jobs I held before law school but I can’t be a lawyer with the law firm because I won’t have a law license but the firm’s law clerk pay is not sufficient.. I have the two children to feed and take care of … I don’t know what to do next.”

At this point, I looked at my gas gauge and at the temperature dial and was horrified to see that I had no gas and the temperature needle was completely in the red zone.  Then I saw something coming out from under the hood. I had no idea where I was, other than in the middle of nowhere! Pulling to the side of the road, I sobbed into the steering wheel for what seemed like hours.

In John 14:16, Jesus promised to send a Comforter — and the Comforter was with me even on a remote road in the mountains. The Comforter spoke through the Word and told me to look out the window. The vista was beautiful. As if the Lord was present in the car, I heard in my heart and soul:

“I made the mountains and hold them in my hand. [Psalm 95:4] I made you – and you are in my hand. [Psalm 139] I will take care of you. I will not answer your questions now …you just have to trust me.” [Proverbs 3:5; Isaiah 26:4]

I looked at the dashboard – still no gas but the temperature was normal and nothing was spewing from under the hood. I timidly turned the ignition switch, the car came to life, and the trip continued. The Lord even provided sufficient gas to reach Gate City and a service station several hours later.

Linda Knox to Bristol v2

After driving a total of 240 miles through the mountains, I got my friend’s house at 7:30 p.m., not only after lunch, but also after dinner!  (The 120 mile direct route is obvious; the green line is the 240 mile route I took instead.)

The terrified feelings that had earlier dominated my spirit were gone. I was calm; I was in Jesus’ hands and He was in control. God put me in a position where I could hear Him and take comfort in His presence. Jeremiah 29:16 says: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

I remember the incident like it occurred yesterday. But sometimes I forget that He is and has been with me throughout all my life: when that happens, I need to quiet my heart to hear His loving Spirit speak to me.

Beloved, He knows where you are, and where you are going, even when you don’t. Trust Him through the faith we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.

You are in secure hands.

[By the way, I did pass the bar examination and I continued working at the law firm for 30 years until retirement.  God is gracious even when we doubt!]

SECURITY – WHERE DO YOU FIND IT?

Remembering a childhood over half a century ago (okay, I am legitimately old at least in my children’s opinion), we could ride bikes throughout the city without fear.  No mobile phone, no texting, no lunch!

We find Mayberry’s Andy and Opie humorous and we remember when life was like “Leave it to Beaver” – generally carefree and congenial.  But that was then, not now.  Security seems to be something that we long for and search after more these days than ever before.  For good reason, some would argue … more violent crimes; more terrorist activity; more drug related crimes; more … and the list could go on ad nauseum.

I don’t know if there is actually “more” of these activities than in the past, but I do know that these events are more readily visible now.  We have our cell phones and ipods with built in cameras that take video of offending activity as it occurs – no matter where in the world it is taking place.  Yes, it seems that there is more reason for security measures than in the past.

Cuddles asleep on heart pillow
Cuddles asleep on heart pillow

We can have guard dogs to attack anyone trying to get into our home.  (Okay, Cuddles is hardly the sterling example of a guard dog as she is reclining on her heart pillow, but if there was an intruder ….!)

We can hire security firms to put locks and sensors on the doors and windows of the house.  We put our valuables in safe deposit boxes.  We put our money at the bank. We go to the doctor even though we know that the body is aging and that there is a limit to what medicine can do.

In Matthew 6:19, Jesus tells us that we should not focus on gathering treasures here on earth where they are only temporary.  Rather, we should lay up treasures in heaven. In short, eternal treasures trump earthly ones every time! In verse 25 Jesus says that we should not be anxious about our life—what we should eat or drink or about what we should wear.

In giving these illustrations, Jesus has covered the waterfront of necessities – food, drink, and clothing.  He then says that God knows we need such things. If we are not to be anxious over necessities, we certainly should not be anxious over the frivolous add-ons that take up so much of our attention.

Our job is to focus on putting our treasures in the kingdom of God.  We are to seek His kingdom and His righteousness … and the rest will be added to us from God.  Matthew 6:25-34.

The writer of Proverbs says “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”  (Proverbs 12:25)  I suggest that many of us can verify the truth of this statement!

Paul says: “[D]o not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7.  If we do this, verse 6 promises that we will the peace of God guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. This doesn’t mean that we ignore what we need or what situation or circumstance faces us; we just are not to stress over it.

Do we want security?  I suggest that we rest in God’s arms.  Lose the anxiety and worry; the fret and cares.  Hand them to God through prayer and then let Him exchange your cares for His peace.  Focus on His kingdom, rather than this world.

Snickers asleep on Daddy's lap.
Snickers asleep on Daddy’s lap.

I realize that no analogy is foolproof and I don’t want this to be misunderstood – but when I visualize resting in God’s arms, I can’t help but see it illustrated in our canine children.  Snickers falls asleep, and snores, when laying on my husband’s lap – tummy fully exposed and head dropped back with eyes virtually glued shut.  Vulnerable? Yes.  Relaxed?  Yes.  Scared?  No.  She is secure in the arms of one who loves her and will care for her.

So, the question is — do you trust in things of this world, or in the God who created this world?

Where do you find your security?