I grew up in Florida. I lived most of my life there and in other places that don’t get snow…ever. Ten years ago I followed my family up here to NC and now I am in love with snow. I wasn’t always! The mere suggestion in a weather forecast that it might snow used to send me into a hand-wringing panic. Rather than drive in it, back in 2010, I walked a mile to work and back every day, leaving my hard-to-handle-on-snow-and ice Ford Ranger parked safely at home. I would completely freak out when I did try to drive in snow. The slightest waver of poor traction made me break out in a sweat despite the cold. Now, don’t get me wrong, the snow itself , as long as I was not trying to drive in it, always held a deep, mysterious fascination for me. When I was out walking in it something about those flakes floating down all around me, whirling and dancing from way up high in an infinite sky had a way of making me take notice of the moment, making me feel alive, reverent and reveling in the almost tangible silence only snow can provide. But drive? Oh no. This was always the case, winter after winter.
Last year was different. Maybe that’s because we live out in the boonies where our zip code is EIEIO. Maybe it is because now my husband has heart issues which, a couple of years ago, caused me to have to get him to the closest ER…Fast!. Good thing it was not snowing that day! Last year, at the first fall of snow, I finally figured out I had better be able to drive in snow, that it surely was time to get over that fear. Also largely contributing to my new-found willingness to master driving in snow is the new-used Chrysler van we have now. It is great for this undertaking. Unlike my old Ranger, it is uniformly heavy on the road, not just a cab with an empty and weightless bed attached, a 306 twirly looking for a place to happen. 2017 was the year I decided to learn to drive in the snow. This required first facing the fear, and holding hard to the faith I profess from the pulpit every Sunday. To my surprise and elation…I did it! I drove all over Kilcarney and back, finally able to do so with confidence.
Last year it snowed quite a few days, and I was so proud. Proud of the protective Love of the God Who sits in the passenger seat and tells me “You can do this, Suz!”, proud of myself for facing a big fat fear and winning. Proud that now I don’t have to rely upon someone else for transportation and favors when it snows. Today I am still proud of this new-found ability, but I am also deeply grateful for the lessons that came to mind as I drove to the rented barn to feed my horses.
I could have called the congenial and horse-savvy man, Wes, who lives on the property where my horses are boarded. He is very helpful and I can hire him to feed them when I can’t. Charlie offered to drive. I had options, and considered them carefully, but I decided to drive over there myself, slowly but surely conquering each incline, curve, and even curving incline, as the lessons this experience held for me began to reveal themselves. When I first took off down the road, all white for miles, covered with snow, no shoulders of the road visible, the first thing I noticed was that I was not shaking, not hyperventilating, not white-knuckled. This is huge, ya’ll, for this old Florida woman! As I realized that none of this was going on with my body-mind, it occurred to me that I am learning to trust Spirit. Really learning to trust.
Trust of anyone or anything has never been easy for me. For so long on my spiritual journey, I have had the loving part down, but the trusting thing? Not really, yet when I decided I had to learn to drive in snow, it became clear to me that one must take a risk if one is ever to learn to trust. Playing it safe will not bring us to this sacred and peaceful place. There was no way I could totally play it safe and learn to drive in snow, so this was the perfect teaching aid for Spirit, Who, by the way, has an endless supply of those! Taking this risk, stepping out right smack dab into my fear, got me thinking “Well, you learned to trust enough to do this, so it follows that very likely, you can learn to trust enough to stop worrying about the future!” And now I know; whatever tomorrow, or even tonight might bring, God will be there, just like God has been there in the van with me on those snowy, curvy, hilly, slippery roads. As I drove almost merrily along this morning, something else occurred to me that can only be a lesson from Spirit.
When I took off from the house this morning to feed, it seemed that I was the very first human in my area to venture out. There were no vehicle tracks. The road was nothing but a continuous, pure white sheet and it was anybody’s guess where the road actually lay. But then I saw tracks. They were good tracks, too, straight and sure, and even laid down on the correct side of the road for the direction I was headed. Relieved, I thanked God for the driver who went ahead of me in an obviously confident, skillful manner, laying down those nice, safe tracks. All I had to do was drive in those well-laid tracks, and for this I was so grateful! So grateful! I even noticed that they seemed to disappear where the road was straight, but re-appeared in all the places where there were hidden curves, showing me the road so I could stay on it. Someone had gone before, what a relief as I tried to guess where that road was!
If we ask Him to, Jesus will go before us in life, just like the good snow driver who went before me this morning. It’s just not always as immediately obvious! After I to prayed a heart-felt thanks to God for the person who laid these tracks , I asked God to help me drive good and true in the places where those tracks are not already there for me, so that the tracks I leave on the freshly snowy road, and in life, will be just as clean and accurate, showing the way to others coming along behind me so that they too can be safe because they can be sure of where the sides of the road are. Maybe that is largely what ministry is, sharing our very best effort, knowing that it is always good enough because Spirit has already made the way for all who ask!
It is the Lord who goes before you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8