The significance was not lost on me. How many times had I traveled this road and asked God, “Why? When? How much longer?” along with desperate requests like, “Help me. Give me the strength. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”
God and I talked a lot on this road. Sometimes our conversations were light-hearted and optimistic (usually on my way home at the end of the week), other times heavy and distraught. Most of the time, it was me doing the talking, but when I let God get a word or two in, man, did He use them. He is the King of opportunities and utilizing moments of unfiltered, vulnerable quiet to reach inside our souls. Perhaps that is why He encourages us so often to be still and know (see Psalm 37:7, 46:10; Exodus 14:14).
This road is where I did a lot of talking to God, but it’s also where He spoke and moved my heart in such a way I will (and can) never be the same. When I felt hopeless, He helped me see a greater story in the works. When I felt unlovable, He showed me that I am His daughter dressed in white. When I felt like a failure, He reminded me of all the work He still had in store for me. When all I had was anger, He gave me love. When my patience wore thin, He extended His. When all I could do was cry (which was often), He held me close and let me linger at His side.
He spoke through the silence, songs on the radio and His creation. He made His presence known in the seat next to me and deep within me. I heard Him, I felt Him, I saw Him.
The average person would look at this road and simply see another highway fraught with semis, commuters, tractors, horse and buggies and school buses. What I see is holy ground. It’s where God began a good work in me, one He is still exercising.
By no means was or is it easy. Those years were the most trying in my life, but they are some of the ones for which I am exceedingly grateful. Am I grateful for the pain I and those around me experienced? No, but I am grateful for how many of God’s promises came to life during that time. Promises such as:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
This road is more than a stretch of pavement, it’s where God drew me closer to Him. It’s where He answered my prayer to break me so He could remake me into His mold. It’s where He called me to the mission I am pursuing today. It’s where it all started, and my golly, has it been a journey so far.
You see, this road is where I heard the words (and felt them deep within), “Quit your job.”
Am I grateful for the pain I and those around me experienced? No, but I am grateful for how many of God’s promises came to life during that time.
The job I had just accepted not even a year before and one I had enjoyed up until a few months prior. (Though at no fault of the job itself, and definitely not because of the people there. It was not my circumstances, but the war waging within me.)
As a planner, perfectionist and one who assigns too much weight to what others think of me, these words were not exactly welcome in my car.
“What do You mean, ‘Quit your job’? Quit and do what?”
I knew what, I just didn’t know the how, and that is what scared me. I knew in my bones God was calling me to ministry. The puzzle pieces had already started to assemble on the table, I just didn’t have the full picture in front of me. For my own good, God was holding back the box with the beautiful picture on the front.
Though it would be another year and a half before God pushed the launch button on His “Go” command, it was on this road He refined me and His vision for me. By no means did He give me much detail, but He did give me an invitation—an invitation with a challenge: “I’m inviting you to do this with Me. Are you willing to say ‘yes,’ even without much of the who, what, when, where and how?”
Well, present day tells you I was willing. I’d like to say I jumped in with no holds barred, but that would be a lie. It came with questions, reservations and doubts, but God patiently waited. Just like He would continue to do as we started the Jesus Connection and I ran ahead doing what I thought we had envisioned.
He took those short-sighted, small-thinking coloring pages of mine and like a loving Father, hung them on His proverbial fridge. Not to shame or disqualify me, but to say, “These are beautiful, My daughter, but I have something greater in mind.”
What was the greater? Well...
That's a story for another time. Stay tuned for next month's main blog feature to find out what greater things God had in store.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.