Safe, Sound, and On Time

By:  Staci Stallings

Here in the Texas Panhandle it’s been a mild winter.  No. Scratch that.  We haven’t really had winter at all, and it’s now the middle of March!  We have had one “ice storm” that hardly qualifies as minimal and no snow.  I mean like… NONE!

The other thing you have to know is that here in the Panhandle, we don’t do the first winter storm of the year very well.  People have just forgotten after eight months of sun that you can’t drive 70 on ice.  They forget to allow extra time.  They forget the bridges freeze over and don’t unfreeze.  They forget to give everyone else leeway.  And guess what, we end up with a mess of wrecks and emergency vehicles.

Well, we had our first real winter storm last Thursday (March 12).  And to be honest, it wasn’t even a storm.  It was a half inch of snow followed very closely by really cold temperatures–right before everyone headed out for work and school.

We headed out too–to school, as usual.

Now I knew the roads might be a little bad, and they were… a LITTLE bad.  But nothing to write home about.

I was driving; the three kids were with me.  Two schools, 45 minutes, routine as usual.  As we got into town, we could see the dusting of snow, and the CARS.  Everywhere.  I didn’t think anything of it (in fact, I didn’t even realize any of this was at all extraordinary until two hours after I got home!).  The center lane at our turn on Washington was blocked off due to road work.  The cars trying to get through the light were backed up for 3/4 of a mile, at least.  But we weren’t going through the light, and there was no one in the center lane, and no one in the turning lane, so we went right on through.  No big deal.

We got to first daughter’s school after having prayed as a family, took phonebooks in for their phonebook drive, and hopped in the van for the second leg of the journey.  When I got on I-27, there was a flood of cars, but we got on without incident because I told my kids, “You’d better start praying that the Holy Spirit helps us out here!”  (It should be noted I’m not a big fan of traffic.  Especially traffic that flies like it does in the morning.)  So we headed around I-27.  At the exchange, we went one way, most of the other traffic went the other.

At the top of the winding bridge, I looked back to gauge where to get on, and there was no traffic.  None.  Four lanes and no traffic.

Okay, wait.  There was one car.  It was a little white four door that was “parked” next to the pylons that keep people from crashing into the concrete bridge barriers.  Think guardrails on steroids.  Only after we went by did I realize, the white car was “going” in the wrong direction as if it had just driven from Los Angeles on I-40 against traffic and decided to park on the road-side of the on ramp for the fun of it.  There were two guys walking around the car.

Now you have to understand why I didn’t think any of this was terribly odd–because I was already focused on the other side of the center concrete-guardrail-on-steroids at the cars, trucks, pickups, ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks jammed together.  I could tell this was no simple wreck.  This was a douzy.  There were trucks stopped, cars backed up for miles.  It looked like a huge mess.  And yet, here I was on the OTHER side, the only car on the whole four lanes, driving as if the whole world wasn’t going nuts around me.

We got to school.  On time.  Maybe even a bit early.  I let the kids out and headed home.

Going home, I drive back out of the city.  Everyone else is driving into the city.  As I crossed I-40, there were cars and trucks lined up on the access road, on the Interstate, everywhere.  But I was on the other side (because I don’t go back down I-40, I use the city streets to go home).  The intersection was crazy, but the green lights ushered me safely through with no delay.  Back down on Washington, the center-lane-is-out mess had gotten WORSE.  Now there was not only a mile of cars trying to get through the light from a single lane, but there was another half-mile of cars waiting to turn onto Washington from the side street.

Again, with no delay at all, I drove home.  I arrived safe and sound and called my mom so she wouldn’t worry that I had been on I-40 during the wreck.  She had already heard about it on the radio… and she lives an hour away!

It was only after I found out WHY my side of I-40 was clear that the Holy Spirit’s Staci Protection Plan came into clarity.  You see, not only was there a huge pileup on the OTHER side of I-40, there was also a huge pileup on my side… one mile behind where I got on.  Then as I thought about it and was explaining to my husband about that strange little white car, I began to realize that THEY had also just had a wreck, or at very least spun out of control.

There are some things I would like to do in Heaven.  One of those things is to see the events of my life and watch how the Holy Spirit put Himself between me and danger.  I know He has–on numerous occasions.  I would also like to witness like on some Heavenly-TIVO how He moved the World to let me pass unscathed as I know He has also done.

Thinking back on the whole morning, seeing again in my memory the lights, the cars, the snarled traffic, I have to say I can see it for the metaphor of my life.  The World is a snarled mess.  Everywhere there is drama, drama, drama.  People are less honest, less caring, less helpful.  They think of me, me, me and no one else.  They refuse to turn their face to God and surrender to His plan, and so they stay stuck in the traffic of the world.  They get into wrecks that are avoidable if they would follow the road maps of the Commandments and the Bible. And life in that World traffic is frustrating and spirit-straining.

I’m not saying I’m perfect… ha!  Far, FAR from it.  What I am saying is that if you can learn to let God be your pilot, if you can learn to let Him drive, if you can learn to surrender to His plan, things just work so much better.  I can tell you that because I’ve also been stuck in traffic and instead of letting my blood pressure go through the roof, I have had the presence of God in me to say, “It’s okay.  Breathe. This too shall pass.  Enjoy this time–it won’t be here forever.”

God is so cool!

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