Road Trip

Sun rises over southern New Mexico, painting the canvas sky lavender and pink. On the horizon, a train chugs along the tracks against the backdrop of a rocky plateau shaped like a sleeping dog. My mind records the scene, soon etched into memory.

Our car on cruise control, heads 10 West through a parched land, the property of roadrunners and rattlesnakes. We are not alone. Dozens of heavy-weight semi trucks lumber beside us in the right lane, driven by faceless men behind tinted glass.

I’ve traveled this highway twice before, heading from Texas to California. It’s a long, mostly desolate journey, broken up by welcomed rest stops and remote gas stations. Small towns, hosting McDonald’s yellow arches, are an oasis to weary travelers.

By noon,  our black car bakes beneath the sun’s rays as the dusty wind slaps the car. We pray for safety, and God’s leading as we travel home. Who knows if the car will hold up. Or what’s waiting around the bend. Even the best-laid plans and preparations can go awry.

Confirming our fearful what ifs, we see vehicle mishaps along the interstate. An overturned truck lying in a ditch, an RV stranded on the side of the road, and someone changing a flat tire. Could be us…..

We check directions on the GPS.  How much longer till we’re there? Is there cell phone service? Enough gas?

The cab of a semi truck is being towed. It’s windshield smashed, and written on the passenger door in giant ink: JESUS IS LORD AND SAVIOR. What happened? Is the driver alright? Did he also pray for travel mercies?

Nerves tense. Being a Christian doesn’t prevent “bad things from happening” on the road of life. But like Simon Peter told Jesus when others walked away, Lord, to whom shall we goYou have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68).

Not knowing the future, we press on because we know Who holds our future. And we know that  Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is present even in this…………..

A road trip in a dry, desolate landscape littered with small cacti that remind me of sheep grazing  in a brown field.

And the knowing makes me rejoice.

Balloons and Bikes

Festive balloons that once floated in the air to celebrate my birthday now huddle on the floor. The helium is gone; they’ve shrunk in size, resembling pastel Easter eggs.

 Some days, I feel like a deflated balloon. Someone or something lets out my air, slowly or with a sudden bang, and I’m face down with nowhere to look, but up!

God’s grace is sufficient, His power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9) Really, if so, then how do I respond to life’s circumstances?

Do I lift a limp fist and vow to rise again on my own strength?  Or seek God’s presence: empty, ego deflated; hands open wide to receive His grace and power?

Last summer, I went with my family on a bike ride. We didn’t realize the dirt path to the lake was predominately uphill. We spent more time pushing the bikes than we did riding them. Red-faced, I fussed at my daughter’s athletic boyfriend who chose the route.

At one point, the path flattened and we jumped on our bikes, pedaling with all our might until…..there was another incline. This time, the boyfriend rode his bike beside mine, and placing his hand on my lower back, pushed me forward while we pedaled. I was depleted, but I could continue the journey because I relied on the boyfriend’s strength. His strength was mine. And I understood how… 

Every circumstance is an opportunity to rely on God’s strength, experience grace sufficient for the moment.

 Trusting His Spirit to fill me, lift me higher and higher until I’m buoyant as a helium balloon rising in the sky; joyful and free in His presence.