A couple weeks ago, it was one of those breathtakingly beautiful mornings with fog everywhere — white snow, white sky, crisp frost on the branches. I was heading to Indianapolis so I grabbed my camera to try to capture some of this beauty. Unfortunately, as I drove along 32, I could never find a good place to pull over to take pictures. Frustrated, I vowed to take the next side road I came to. It snuck up on me in the fog, and I swung onto it... and, moments too late, noticed it was a rutted, muddy dirt road. Not even gravel, just dirt. Great. My clean white car...
I hadn’t gone far before I regretted my decision, but there was no place to stop and nowhere to turn around. There was not a single house or lane to be found. At first it was just messy and bumpy, but before long, I started composing in my head the words to explain to Tim how I got stuck in the middle of nowhere and needed to be rescued. The muck was deep and sucked at my tires. My car was sliding from side to side when it wasn’t bogged down by the deep wet earth, and the tires were spinning and spewing mud up to the top of the side windows. I didn’t care how clean my car was; all I could do was pray out loud and focus on not stopping. I knew if I so much as slowed down I’d never get moving again. The sludge in the road pulled the car from side to side; my shoulders were tense from gripping the wheel, and I repeated over and over, out loud,“Lord Jesus, please. Lord Jesus, please. Lord Jesus, please!” After two miles, I came to a crossroads (thank you, Jesus!) and the road was paved (thank you, Jesus!). With a deep breath of relief, I turned onto it, feeling stupid and annoyed with myself. I headed right back to the main road, making sure at each turn that the road was solid asphalt before me, and went directly to Indy and the nearest car wash.
Sometimes we’re faced with situations we don’t want to be in — usually because of choices (or stupid decisions) we’ve made. Those are the times we need to look for a side road and turn around, or look for the earliest opportunity to get off that path.
But once in a while, we’re in circumstances that are out of our control. A relative is very sick; we lose jobs or friends or money; we’re misunderstood or unappreciated or wrongly treated. Some of these predicaments are small, but some are all-consuming and life-altering. We may think we can’t bear it. We don’t have the strength or energy or desire to patience to get through, and our hearts are broken. But more than that, we don’t know how to keep going. We’re being pulled down into a quagmire, under the sludge and muck, trapped and unable to find a way off that path. Those are the times we need to keep the pedal to the floor and just keep going, praying all the way. It may be ugly, and it may be messy, and it may even be a little bit scary. But if we can just keep moving forward, and ask God to help, we will get past the place we’re in.