For months, I’d been encouraging people (especially women) to enlarge their vision of the power of God. Too often, we limit God’s strength based our preconceptions, our disappointment in unanswered prayer or even the shame from our past. God is vast, unlimited, able to do incredible things in our lives. He is wild and untamable. Nothing is as formidable as our God.
Then it came time for me to put my money where my mouth was…
Driving from Illinois to California, our car broke down on I-40 about 50 miles west of Oklahoma City. Read: literally in the middle of nowhere. When the car coasted to a stop, I heard the devil whispering in my ear, jeering at me, “Let’s see how great your God is now.”
Both my husband and I were confused, frustrated and disoriented. We didn’t know anyone in Oklahoma who could help us, had never been in this situation and felt an almost heart-shattering longing to be home. Neither of us was operating at our best as one decision after another had to be made.
But God was there… At every turn, His blessings abounded.
When we called AAA to be towed, our driver was a friendly Okie, who not only took the car to a repair shop, did his best to find us a rental car and directed us to a local hotel.
That hotel had a huge sign in the lobby, “No pets allowed.” Since we were traveling with an adult German Shepherd and this was the only hotel in walking distance, the rule could have meant sleeping under the stars in a nearby park. When I explained our situation to the hotel clerk, she graciously rented a room to us and Lily.
In the morning, we found the shop didn’t do the type of repairs needed, so we had the car towed again to a fantastic repair shop owned by Christians. The type of people who didn’t hide their faith – that was obvious when you walked in. They not only provided guidance about the car repair, but when the time came to pay the bill, sliced the amount owed substantially.
Because the car was moved closer to Oklahoma City, I randomly picked a new hotel off the internet. This one ended up being about a mile away from a wonderful lake and recreation area that even had a doggie park for Lily. When I checked in, the hotel clerk upgraded our room – without any knowledge of the stress we were under.
When renting a car, I booked a compact car thinking we’d only be using it to tool around Oklahoma City for a few days. Once at the agency, they asked if it would okay to upgrade us to a Jeep for the same price. This ended up being crucial, because it was the Jeep we eventually drove back to California and the vehicle provided just enough room for our luggage and dog supplies.
The list goes on, but at every juncture, people went out of their way to help us, be kind to us, show us graciousness, even if they didn’t know the burdens we were bearing.
Being stuck is frustrating, confusing and emotionally taxing. Still, God shows up. We were never alone. Despite the devil’s taunts, God’s blessings were too many to count.
If you are stuck, here are some helpful suggestions to get you moving again.
Give yourself freedom to mourn – Too often we gloss over our feelings of loss. But denying feelings is emotionally unhealthy. Trust God as much as you can and allow yourself to feel your grief inside of His tender, loving embrace.
Give thanks for all the good – It would have been very easy to hold a pity party at the side of the interstate. Looking for the good, like a friendly clerk or a safe place to sleep at night, keeps you positive and makes moving forward easier.
Control the things you can – Realize your decisions can make positive changes, but let go of the things over which you have no control. I had no control over how long we were stuck in Oklahoma, but I could control my attitude towards it. Every morning I woke up thinking of new adventures to experience in a city I’d basically only driven through instead of moping in our hotel room.
Give others grace – One thing I am most proud of is despite the stress both Richard and I were under, we never argued, never fought and never blamed the other. We both understood how much grace God gives us and we just followed His lead.
Look forward to God’s surprises – He plants so many of them along our path. Don’t be amazed by them; anticipate them as you move through our day.
Remember where the finish line is – We both understood this was a temporary setback. Granted there were times when we thought we’d never get through it…when it seemed just too daunting. Knowing our ultimate finish line wasn’t California, but is heaven brought a beauty to what could have been a very ugly time. So every day, run well and enjoy the scenery along the way.
I’m not sure what has you stuck, but step out boldly into a freefall towards His grace. He will catch you. He always will.