Friday, November 14, 2014


Courage:  Not the absence of fear, but faith in the midst of it. 

There's no place like home.  Over the last week, this truth became very vivid.  After a random phone call, I embarked on an adventure that sent me across the country in a pick up truck with my sister.  It felt like I was in a dream, it was all so sudden.  But the real challenge started when it came time to drive all that way back home . . . alone. 

I have to admit that I was scared, not so much of strangers, but of the cities I would be driving through, the barren desserts I would cross, and the storm I would have to beat.  Because of the massive cloud bearing down over our country with its load of snow, I could not take my usual route across Idaho, the route I know.  Instead, I dropped south and cut across Nevada, adding several hours to my journey. 

Normally that would not be a big deal, other than I was far from home and driving across some of the most remote areas of our country.  As I turned onto an unmarked road, described to me by my brother as a shortcut across south east Oregon, my cell phone lost coverage.  It was then I thought, "Okay, God.  It's you and me, some 300 miles of you and me with nothing else."  It's one thing to say I believe He is watching over me and quite another to have all crutches removed, looking only to Him for my safety. 

And yet, God gave me assurance that He had me covered.  As I started down that desolate road, the radio began a song.  The lyrics seemed directly for me.  "Be strong, do not fear, for I am with you..." I didn't know the song, having never heard it before or since, only that at the time, it spoke to my anxious heart. 

I claim to live by faith, but so often seek places of safety, you know, low risk.  Not that I should purposefully place myself in danger or be stupid about my decisions.  But at times God calls me to place my faith where 'the rubber meets the road'.  Is God real?  Is He powerful?  Is He good?  Then I should be able to lean my full weight onto Him.  At times He has to pry my hands away from what gives me confidence, in order to test where my faith really lies. 

Midway across Nevada I caught up with the edge of the Alaskan cloud.  It was awesome to see, it's ominous shade stretched wide over the valley floor, a distinct line across the sky.  I felt like I was in a race against nature, commanding, "No!  Wait!  Not yet!  Give me half a day!"  But I was reminded that God sends snow on the just and the unjust, and sometimes difficulties arise to make us stronger. 

By the time I reached Salt Lake, I was well under the cloud.  News predicted snow within the hour and so I changed my route again, going even further south.  There's nothing quite like circling the state of Utah to get across a mountain pass, but it can be done!  Finally, I entered the canyon lands.  I never knew that red rock would be so inviting, but it was, because it was home.   

Now and then God calls us to risk, to stretching, to growth, and to a deeper faith.  Normally that does not come through the forces of nature, but I will always remember this Alaskan storm and my unexpected road trip as one which challenged my fears.  I'm reminded that the clouds are the dust of His feet.  God controls the weather as well as what touches me.  And He can be trusted.

Though difficult, I'm glad for my travels, because it forced me to practice what I preach, that we need to do hard things.  Choosing the scary path, rather than the comfortable or safe, keeps me from becoming complacent and stagnant.  I want to live by faith, because I want to always go deeper and draw nearer to the Lord.  He is faithful.  

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