Coasting the Van Gogh hills of southern Iowa, I could have been Rip Van Winkle in the blink of an eye. I had chosen to drive home at night from Des Moines to Tulsa. I ended one class Wednesday afternoon and planned to teach another on Thursday morning. There are no direct flights—everything goes through Dallas or Chicago—and the recent Midwest flooding made it likely I’d miss my connection if I flew. I looked forward to the cool summer air and starlit Kansas countryside. My stereo held a playlist of songs to practice for my Friday night show. I was packed and ready to go…
I was so tired. I’m a high-energy teacher, and by the end of the day I’m ready for a nap. Rip can keep his twenty years—a twenty minute reboot was all I needed, but the only place to rest was the road. I asked God to wake me up and bought a mocha to help Him out. After an hour or two of singing, I called my friend Nicole. I met her at a blues festival in Kansas, where she was raising money for a mission trip and I was dancing like a hooligan, high on music and summer air. She got a Goliath Down cd and I began sponsoring her ministry. She calls me once or twice a year and asks how she can pray for me, so I decided to surprise her by calling and praying for her. Excitedly, she told me about her work in Orlando and recent trip to the Philippines. “The students barely need us to help—they’re so passionate about reaching out to others at their school.”
“That is so cool! Hey, can you stop for a second and pray for me?” I had reached Kansas City, and from three directions, cars raced in and slid to a halt. Go, stop, go stop. I-35 intruded, I-29 wound over and under slick twists of interchange. The GPS spat swift orders: Keep left on I-29; stay on US-71; keep straight onto I-70/US-40/US-71; keep right on US-71, take ramp right for 670; take right for I-35. I-70 siphoned off a few cars. The rest of us edged onto 670 and pressed down on the gas, but the rain was a traffic cop holding us back.
“Do you need me to let you go?” Nicole asked after praying.
“No, you’re keeping me calm.”
Five minutes later, the rain was so fierce I could barely hear, so we said goodbye. The clatter of hail hit my windshield. I drove a little further, telling myself I’d soon be past it and I didn’t want to get stuck in a Missouri flood. When I saw a sign for Chili’s, I took the exit. Relying on my instincts, I turned right. Wrong. I wound around, gave up and returned to the highway. The hail wore itself out during my detour.
Dark met the storm for a date, and the three of us traveled the winding, two-lane country road. I realized I was no longer sleepy and smiled wryly at God. Lightning flashed and lit the way ahead just before a car rounded the curve. Its headlights turned the horizontal rain into a firework bursting on my windshield. It was exquisite, but it was the only thing I could see. I recalled the strip that had been lit and drove. Another strike displayed another half-mile before another car approached. The rain blossomed, a chrysanthemum of light and drops, and my car sketched the path from memory. After a few miles of this, I relaxed into the routine. I was two hours from home when the clouds clocked out. They hung around, obscuring the stars I’d hoped to see, but I was glowing from the show they’d put on. Even writing this now makes my heart flutter.
God is creative and powerful. “Easy” is for lesser beings. When we ask for what we know, He gives us so much more. If we relax into what He’s doing, He’ll show us enough of the map that we can follow it blind and still make it home. Now, instead of a pleasant drive completed, I have a memory that will give me good goosies forever. Happy sigh.
Be blessed this week with at least one unique experience into which you can relax, trust and appreciate the creativity of the One who loves you.