Snow swirled around us in cottony swaths of white as we inched along interstate 40. A light blanket of snow covered the roadway, marred by parallel lines that marked the pathway of the vehicles preceding us. The SUV ahead was a dim charcoal outline illuminated by its soft red tail lights.
Another gust of wind and snow engulfed us, momentarily blinding us to our surroundings. The atmosphere had a dream-like quality. It was like being on an amusement park ride, but there was little amusing about the situation. My eyes darted left and right scanning for those white road markers that had suddenly become my biggest comfort. Seeing those markers reassured me that we were in no immediate danger of skidding off the road into the ditch. The road signs were ghostly white shapes, their messages hidden from view.
With the constant onslaught of snow, it felt as though we were moving backward down the hill instead of creeping steadily upward at a slow 10-20 miles per hour. Thankfully, the plow had gone before us, making the road smooth, but not icy. There was enough powder to keep traction, but no car wanted to be their own plow.
Every so often, there’d be a break in the onslaught of snow and misty headlights became visible through the tall pines, coming from the west-bound semi-trucks. Suddenly, blinking Amber lights caught our attention as we glimpsed a mustang (only identifiable by its distinctive tail lights) at an awkward angle in the ditch. I called the dispatch center to report the vehicle and they assured me that a tow truck was already en route.
We debated exiting in Flagstaff and waiting out the storm, but it seemed more prudent to press on for at least one more hour (conditions permitting) in an attempt to get out of it before stopping to rest. There was no guarantee where or when the storm would end, but we wanted to try.
This was my first real snowstorm. For a southern California kid who was used to living with 2 seasons instead of 4, this was quite the experience. I worked to stay calm and sent up my fair share of prayers for safe deliverance. When we had checked the forecast the day before, the doppler was clear without any hint of a storm. And yet, a storm descended rapidly upon us and didn’t clear up except for a brief respite outside Winslow, Arizona. (The above picture was taken somewhere the next morning in New Mexico.) We finally escaped the storm in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. I can’t tell you how beautiful black roads are after prolonged hours of traveling on icy ones.
How often do we find ourselves traveling on the road of life, going the right direction, the way clear and planned, when suddenly we are engulfed in a blinding storm? Sometimes the storms hit without warning and we are terrified. There are 3 things to remember when the storm comes—because eventually we will all find ourselves in one.
Jesus has plowed the way for us.
Somewhere up ahead of us during that trip, there was an unseen plow scraping through the snow, clearing a path for us to drive. Hebrews 12 urges us to look ahead to Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” It proceeds to say, “consider Him who endured such hostility against himself lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Jesus showed us how to pray, how to live, how to love and how to forgive. Most importantly, he made it possible for us to walk the path God has laid out for His children. No matter what storm comes our way, He has already plowed the path. We just have to follow his lead. Without His sacrifice, we would never be able to go along that road, it’d be full of ruts, drifts and barriers. He makes it possible for us to come to God.
There is comfort in boundaries.
American roads have excellent signage. Mile markers tell you how far down a certain road in the county you’ve traveled, lines tell you what lane to be in. But what happens when those things are obscured from view—when you can only see what’s immediately in front of you? The signs that night were totally obscured, but we could still see the white poles that indicated the edges of the pavement and we stayed as far away from both edges as possible. God’s Word is like those boundaries. There are times when its message to us is so clear—your life path is smooth and direct and you know how fast to go. There are other times when we can’t see our way so well and those boundary lines are the only thing we can count on to keep us from slipping off into the ditch. Even when the storm is blinding, God will leave those markers in tact. He won’t change the rules so you slide off the road.
There’s a time to press on and a time to rest.
With the plows running, visibility acceptable, and plenty of careful, slow-moving vehicles, we decided to press on through the storm, at least for an hour or more, in the hopes it would abate. Once the snow started turning into a heavy rain, we decided that we might have reached the edge of the storm and pulled off to rest for a few hours. We awoke, revived enough for the remainder of our journey. For the first few hours, the rain relented and we drove quietly through the darkness of early morning. Unfortunately, we spent the next several hours through more storms. Part of experiencing both literal and life storms is to gain discernment. Careful observation and experience helps one to understand how long and how safely a storm can be weathered.
Are you in a storm today? Is your pathway obscured by trouble, grief, doubt, or pain? Remember that God will not leave you or forsake you. Jesus has gone before us, the Holy Spirit dwells within us, the scriptures guide us. We are never truly alone unless we decide to recklessly go our own way… and even then, God will be waiting for us to turn to Him for help, to pull us out of the ditch, or to set us on the right road.
Press on to know the Lord. In fair or foul weather, look to Him.