It was my senior year of college. I was sharing an apartment with three other student teachers, and since we were in Virginia and there was snow on the ground, school was closed.
My roommates were all huddled around the TV with mugs of hot chocolate, watching the weather report, when I announced that I was going out to run some errands. Their looks of complete shock made me laugh. I brushed off their concern and said, "It's just a dusting! I'm from Michigan, remember? I'll be fine."
Twenty minutes later, I wasn't so "fine." Going around a curve, my car did a nosedive into one of Virginia's beautiful mountains. When I stepped on the gas, my tires only carved deeper trenches. I climbed out and looked around. Why hadn't I put on a coat? I was in the middle of nowhere with no buildings in sight. And this little venture predated cell phones. I was stuck!
I postured myself at the side of the road, ready to flag down the first car I saw. But no cars came. Apparently everyone was home doing what my roommates were doing. After twenty minutes or so, I was getting pretty cold. I got back in the car and checked my fuel and found it was close to empty. Panic set in.
There in my little car, I cried out to God. "Lord, I was so foolish! I have no other hope but You. Please, God! Will You send someone to help me?"
A few minutes later, a vehicle rounded the bend up ahead, ever so slowly. I leaned forward and squinted. Was that a tractor? In the middle of winter? Yup. It was a tractor, with wheels taller than me. I hopped out, but it was going so slow, it seemed strange to wave my arms. It rambled to a stop beside my car, and a kindly farmer said, "Ya'll need some help?"
Oh, I needed help, all right! He just happened to have some rope on board and pulled me out within a matter of minutes. I wonder if angels sometimes drive tractors.
Waist-Deep in Consequences
I'm so thankful that we can call on God any time, any place. Even when we've been foolish.
Even when . . .
- we've disregarded warnings about debt, alcohol, or eating habits.
- we've refused to reach out for coaching at work, help with an addiction, or input on parenting.
- we've been stubborn, unyielding, and defiant.
When we're waist-deep in consequences that we created, when we're stuck in a ditch that we were foolish enough to drive into, can we still cry out to God? And if so, what is His demeanor when we do so? Does He fold His arms across His chest and say, "I warned you about this. You should have listened"?
No, not our God! Even when we've created the mess we're in, God runs toward us with open arms and kisses (Luke 15:20)!
In fact, those roadblocking consequences are often God's invitation to stop, turn back from our cocky independence, and finally call out to Him! Sometimes God leans down from heaven to give our career a little tap into a ditch. Or our marriage a little nudge toward the rocks. Or our finances a little plunge into the red. God hems us into a place where we're ready to see our foolishness and cry out to Him.
Even when we've created the mess we're in, God runs toward us with open arms and kisses.
That day that I was stuck on the side of a Virginia mountain, I don't picture a cold-hearted God, cracking the whip to teach me a lesson. Instead, I have a memory of a warm encounter with my personal God who sees me even when no one else can. He knows just how big of a mess I've made, yet He still loves it when I turn and cry out to Him as my only hope!
Are you facing a ditch today? Are you stuck in a place of hopelessness, wondering if anyone can even see that you need help? God sees you, my friend. And even if you've caused this mess you're in, God wants to be your rescuer.
Let these verses be your prayer:
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief . . . my strength fails because of my iniquity. . . . I had said in my alarm, "I am cut off from your sight." But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help. (Ps. 31:9-10, 22, emphasis added).