Adventures in Winter Driving, Part 1: Did You Hit My Tree?


"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isa 41:10 NIV)

It all started out as an ordinary winter day. As usual, I hadn't left myself enough time to get to school, and since I also needed to stop by the house of a colleague who was sick, to pick up her lesson plans for the day, I was in a hurry. My mind was busily playing through a problem I had been dealing with at school, and instead of paying attention to the route, I was praying. Okay, so I wasn't REALLY praying. It could probably have been more accurately called "complaining to God", and I CERTAINLY wasn't listening for any replies!

As I turned down the road where my colleague lived, I noticed that things didn't look quite the same as usual. Could this be because of the fresh snow that had fallen in the night??? But no. I remembered that there had been several houses on her street, and there was only ONE house here! Fresh snow wouldn't completely hide houses! Now what?

All this time, I was continuing to "blabber" to God about my dilemma at work. This, combined with growing stress about not finding the right street, clouded my judgment, to say nothing of my ability to hear God! And my clouded judgment directed me to turn into the long driveway of the only house on that street, even though I could see that none of the 20 cm of snow that had fallen overnight had been cleared. Deep inside, I heard a faint whisper telling me not to go up that driveway, but I didn't listen. Instead, I drove all the way up to the house on the top of the hill.

I was barely out of the car when an angry voice called across the drive: "What do YOU want!"

The older lady's tone rendered me momentarily speechless. This was quite obviously NOT the right house!!! All was not lost, however. Maybe she knew where my colleague lived!

She didn't. Nor did she seem to care about anything except getting me off of her property! I hurried to comply, but as I was backing my car out of that long driveway (there was no room to turn around!), I realized that I couldn't tell where the road was! All I could see was a white sheet of snow, and being the "expert" driver that I am, especially in the reverse direction, I soon found myself in the drainage ditch that lined the front of this typical country property.

Now what???

I spent the first ten minutes trying to shovel my way out, but the end result was that my van ended up leaning even farther to the right. I had no choice but to go back to the house up the hill and ask the "friendly" lady if I could use her phone.

I was barely up her front steps when the door flew open again: "Did you hit my tree?"

"Uh . . . No . . ." I stammered, again taken aback by her accusatory tone. "I'm-I'm stuck in your . . ." But the door was already starting to close. "Wait!" I cried. "May I use your . . ."

Instantly a telephone appeared. "I can't let you in. I am all by myself!" Came the lady's voice. "Here is a phone!" As the door clicked shut, I could hear the dead bolt sliding into place.

I couldn't blame her for not letting me in. Why would a complete stranger drive up a long, snow-covered driveway, and then get stuck on it? At least I had a phone, but when I called my auto club for help, the first thing they wanted to know was the address! If I had known where I was, I wouldn't be in this mess in the first place!

The only one to help me was the lady, but not wanting to further frighten her, I hesitated before knocking. Suddenly the door cracked up and a note appeared. I barely had my hand on it when the door banged back shut. At least there was an address on the note. Now help would be on the way!

But my new-found smile quickly faded with the auto club's next information: They wouldn't be there for another 40 minutes! Sigh.

The next step was to call school to let them know I would be late. I also had the sense of mind to ask them to call my colleague and let her know I hadn't forgotten her. By this time, the icy wind had succeeded in creeping past my gloves and boots and icicles were forming on my eyelashes. Shivering with cold, I knocked once again on the door to give the lady back the phone. "Thank . . ." I managed to say before the door again banged shut. Rather than try to complete my sentence and risk further scaring the lady, I waded through the snow to my van to wait out my forty minutes out of the wind.

To say that my mood was amiable would have been a gross understatement: "Why did you let me get stuck, Lord???"

This time I actually heard the reply, loud and clear. I didn't like it very much, however: "It was the only way to get your attention."

"Get my attention???!!!"

"You weren't letting me get a word in edgewise," came the aggravatingly accurate response. "You just kept on talking, complaining about your problem at work. You were letting your circumstances dominate you, and no good can ever come out of that!"

I hung my head in shame. God had a 100% accurate perception of our previous conversation . . . "Forgive me, Lord!" I whispered.

"You're forgiven," He graciously replied. If He had stopped there, I would have felt better, but He didn't: "You know, you aren't any better than that poor lady up the hill. You both refuse to listen."

I couldn't argue. After all, He HAD warned me not to go up that driveway! "I've learned my lesson," I said. "From now on I will make sure to always listen to you. But I am weak. You will have to help me with this resolve! I can only be strong if I rely on You!"

Instantly, the words of Isa 41:10 came to mind: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." NIV Wow!

The next 30 minutes passed quickly as God and I proceeded to have a wonderful conversation in the car. Then I suddenly felt that I needed to get out of the car and walk to the road! This time I obeyed, and just as I reached the end of the driveway, my repair truck zoomed passed. I must have looked quite peculiar jumping up and down in the snow on the side of the road, but my antics achieved their desired response: The repair truck stopped and turned around. What would have happened if I hadn't obeyed? Would I still be sitting at the end of that lady's driveway? It ALWAYS pays to listen to God's Voice!

Friend, you may also be facing impossible circumstances. If you go to God for help, you are doing the right thing, but don't just blabber about your problems so much that you forget to listen for His response! Don't let the circumstances dominate your emotions! Listen instead! He has the solution to your problems. After all, you don't want to get stuck in a friendly lady's driveway!

"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes." (Ps 37:7 NIV); and "In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." (Psalm 5:3 NIV).

Rob Chaffart

P. S. About my "all-consuming problem" at school? It was resolved without any effort on my part before my workday was over! Why did I even worry????

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