I sincerely apologize for how long it has taken me to get this posted. I have been working on it for days, bits at a time, and as much as I wanted to share it sooner, there was just no way to condense some of it. I know this will seem redundant, it seems I've said this before, but writing this has encouraged even me......to be able to trace back and see running almost concurrently to the darkest times and most painful experiences, have been the biggest breakthroughs, the most important lessons and the most miraculous encounters. A good thing to remember, next time you find yourself in the Wilderness.
I have said in several earlier posts, that someday I would share with you "Wreckage." And, as I was sitting and thinking about how to begin the story of "dream number three," how to explain what happened immediately before and after, "wreckage" came to mind. Over the span of about 10 days in July, it truly was just that.......wreckage. Banged up, smashed up, totaled cars. Crunched and mangled, fractured plans............illusions of people, purposes and promises.......shattered and devastated, and any notion that we would be able to stay in our lives, in our home, in our comfort zone, gone. All of it, wrecked in a field and later hauled away, never to return.
As I said, in"The Poets Prophet," there were 2 events that surpassed all others, in the damage and devastation they inflicted. I also stated, that while our own wounds seem forgettable and dull, it is the wounds we see dispensed to others, that are the far greater torment. So it was in May, and so it was again, in July. But, worse than the pain of your friends, is the pain of your family. And, once again I found myself hurling into the pit. But, this pit, was especially designed for me. Pits are found all through out scripture, Joseph was in a pit, Daniel was in a pit. The enemy intends them to be the place of our destruction, our devouring or abandonment. But, as we see in the Word and hopefully, in our own lives, we learn these lessons in the pit: We are not alone there, Jesus is with us. He protects us there, He teaches us there, prepares us there and then He helps us leave there. Pits are literally, traps you fall into. You DON'T leave the pit on your own. You have to be helped out and He is our Help.
Pits are not unique to me, or to any of us, we've all endured one, and we've all set our own traps for others. It's only worth mentioning, if it was a catalyst, into something greater.......if it was not the end of a story, but the beginning of newer, greater one. It's not just a writing style or method of mine, that many of my stories begin with the painful, disappointing part first, you see, more often than not, that's exactly where every great thing Christ works out, in my life, begins. Start there, move through it quickly, perhaps a little slower if there's something to be learned from it, and then move on, to what He did with it.
And, so we have "Wreckage," my wreckage. It only took me 9 months to share it.
It's funny, I remember three years ago, going to a conference in Nashville and R.T Kendall spoke. He has, what I feel, is the best book on forgiveness ever written, Total Forgiveness. He was speaking to a packed room of pastors about the hurt they are holding on to and needing to break free from. At the end, hundreds went down to the altar, broken and tired. Andy and I stayed in our seats, so relieved and grateful we couldn't relate. And, though at the time I truly couldn't relate, it really resonated with me. I had no idea that God was equipping me, even then.
I've repeated his message on forgiveness more times than I can count. Kendall uses the story of Joseph to dissect what it really means and looks like to forgive someone. I'm giving you the key points, but it's a lousy substitution for getting the book. GET THE BOOK. To really forgive someone, you must: Never tell how they wronged you, never let them fear you, never let them feel guilty, do not wait for them to repent, protect them, pray for them and bless them. And then, repeat until you get it right. I'm not there yet, but I heard the message, I know it's God's Word and I am now accountable for it. And, for that reason, I will tell you the effects of this particular pit, what I learned in the pit, and most importantly how He helped me out, because it was a game-changer and significant to our story.........but more than that, would be inappropriate. So, until I better know how to share that in a way that edifies the body, it will remain in pages, unwritten.
Through the summer, I felt like I was doing okay, really. I was able to function in our new normal and though nothing had changed or improved we were finding some kind of routine and stasis, even in chaos. I felt a sense of peace, that I was learning and growing in Gods will and until July, I really believed everything would work out and God would be glorified through restoration.
But, the events of July, left me feeling as though I had made it through months of Wilderness, months groping around in darkness, I was finally starting to see light at the end, a way out ............. and then, THUD! Into the Pit, I fell. I felt like I had survived 90% of the worst, to make it to what seemed like maybe within just weeks or even days, of our exodus, only to lay down in the dirt and give up completely.
I do hope that paints a picture for you, I can still see it in my mind, and this is how I described it even then. Picture it, the Wilderness. You are dropped into it with nothing, no supplies, no sense of direction or time, no idea why or for how long you'll be there. It takes months, to get over the shock, to start participating in your survival. Even longer, before you actually think you're getting a handle on this, you're not just existing there anymore, you're thriving. You've adapted, developed a regimen, now you're learning, growing, acquiring new skills. And finally, you start to think.........not only could you survive here, for however long you needed to, but miraculously, you may actually make it out. I made it that far, nursing not quite healed wounds, but regaining strength, building determination, even a bit proud of myself for not giving up already. And then, blazing towards me, fiery darts from out of nowhere, arrows from the enemy. This final assault, so effective, I truly did decide to just lay down, put my face in the dirt and lay there. I was done assessing, done coping and done fighting. It wasn't that I was a quitter, I just felt like I understood my reality better now, and the reality was, I had miscalculated. Overcoming, should have never been my goal. Endurance, maybe......survival, patience or grace, might have been attainable goals, but not victory, not triumph. I could see that now, how naive I had been, enduring does not mean winning...........participating or even completing something, does not mean winning. I had it wrong all along. I thought this was a timed contest, that would eventually come to an end, with winners and losers. It wasn't that at all. This was training, no points given, competing against yourself only, and I had hit the wall. I had peaked short of the finish line, close no doubt, but short. It wasn't like I gave up for no reason, I had done the best I could, believed as much and as big as I could, but I was spiritually, mortally wounded. And for that reason, decided to get away for a few days, to Dallas. After all, why stay?
I wish I could tell you I had been braver, stronger....that nothing steals my joy or hope. But, the truth is, I went for almost 4 days, Saturday to Tuesday, not speaking to my Lord, not praying, not praising.....I didn't want to talk about it, didn't want encouragement, I wouldn't even listen to praise and worship music. I didn't read my Bible or any of the studies, that had been my constant companions for months. I was too tired, too hurt, and too defeated. I wouldn't say His name, I wouldn't cry out anymore. I had asked, pleaded for months and now..... I was done, maybe not done with God, but done struggling, done hoping. But, He was not done with me.
Sometime late Tuesday afternoon, my resolve began to crack, He began softening my heart, speaking to my spirit, in the tiniest, bearable amounts. I'll have to go back through my journals to see what exactly it was, that began opening the floodgates. But, I remember gradually throughout the day, I wasn't ready to pray yet, but I would find myself whispering, a time or two....."Jesus, Jesus." Then, later, I turned on my music, wouldn't sing along-heaven forbid- but I was listening. Then, I was listening to sermons, one in particular, from Brady Boyd at New Life in Colorado. Brady Boyd, is the pastor that followed the disgraced Ted Haggard, he is also the pastor that on his 118th day as pastor of New Life, witnessed a gunman opening fire on a Sunday morning, killing two. His message was entitled, "When God Disappoints Us." It's an extraordinarily powerful sermon, and as I thought about his words, I felt the Holy Spirit whispering to me, "It's a lie, it's the greatest lie of the enemy." And it is, Satan wants us to believe that God is a great, big disappointment. He doesn't want us to focus on everything He has done for us, given us.......the enemy hopes we remember only, the time it didn't turn out as we'd hoped. Forget creation and Calvary, and meditate on the times God's answer was anything other than, "Yes." Remember your suffering, your loss, your own desires, unfulfilled. Satan wants us to live and breathe every expectation that wasn't met, every "good thing" God has withheld. This is a form of bondage, and it's one of the enemy's favorites.
By Tuesday evening, I was broken again, humbled before the Lord. I confessed my sin, my anger, hurt, my wrath towards others, my weakness, my confusion. I began telling Jesus, "Lord, I just don't understand. I don't see Your hand, I don't know where You are, or I would be running towards You. I don't know what You are doing or what I should be doing. Lord, I have walked by faith and not by sight for months, I need sight now. I need just a glimpse to point me in the right direction. Lord, I'm too tired, too broken to dig it out for myself today." And, I was.....I really was.
Do you know the fog that comes with "rock bottom?" It is a fatigued, exhausted version of yourself. On one hand, I felt like I was so emotionally and physically tired, that I was only passively participating in my life. But, on the other hand, there is a certain clarity and security that comes with truly believing, it could not possibly get worse. I was in that fog for 4 days and finally Tuesday, felt like my breakthrough was coming. But, no one, was as shocked as I was, at the form my breakthrough would take.
That night, or morning, as it were, July 6th, I had a third dream. The same, as the others, in some ways and yet, vastly different. I was awake, I know I was awake. Like the others, it was incredibly detailed, very definite meanings, it was in color, it was between 2-4 AM, and I felt only peace and calm during and after it. There, the similarities end. Before, my dreams were very brief, in dream 2, there wasn't even scenery or images. But, this one was packed with information, meaning and content. This one had many other people and settings in it. And again, as soon as it was over, I leaped out of bed and started writing. I still remember every bit of it, but that night I was so overwhelmed, I actually recorded myself saying it aloud, while it was still fresh. By early the next morning, I had repeated it to Andy, to my parents and then parked myself at the computer, researching it. There were several Old Testament references, and though I felt like I understood them, I wanted to be very sure I wasn't missing some of the context or meaning. It was, at the same time, the craziest thing I've ever experienced, and the most clarifying, reassuring and normal thing I've ever experienced.
The first dreams, I felt, were for other people, but this one was for me. And, while I understood what I was seeing, understood the important parts that I was supposed to be paying attention to, I didn't understand what I was supposed to do with it. There was only one specific part, that I knew was for someone else, and I, trying to be good to my commitment, was obedient to share that part with the intended person. It was a message of comfort. After that, I was totally at a loss.
A side note- I am really praying and thinking about how best to present this, and while I believe I understand how, I also know it may seem unfair or frustrating to you, the reader. For that, I apologize. But, most of the third dream was for me and me alone. And, while I have no problem telling you what it was about, I hesitate, because I am still coming to terms with it's meaning and significance for my life. Oh, I understand what it meant- the images, the symbolism........... and I believe it, alright. But, I don't understand what it means for my future, or ministry or how to use it to encourage the body, just yet. I believe only time and the Holy Spirit will help me with this. Someday, I will write a book, it will be called, "The Writing on the Wall," and perhaps then, all of these unwritten pages will find their place.
I was earnestly seeking wisdom and further understanding, but I wasn't even sure where to begin. I began calling one or two friends, one or two pastors, I researched a couple people to email, but didn't feel like any of these doors were supposed to open, so I didn't pursue them. But, I did begin praying that someone would be put in my path who could offer a unique insight and wisdom for me. I asked several people to join me in praying that God would put a "counselor" in my path, who was objective and removed from my situation. I honestly didn't think this person would be in Lubbock, after all, if they were, I would already know them. Over the last year, we had developed some close relationships at the seminary, and in some of the churches we had either talked to, in years past, or had friends currently serving in. I felt confirmation in my spirit, that getting away to Dallas, was becoming even more important.
Mom and I had already decided, that weekend, we were hitting the road, a decision made immediately upon entering the Pit................ but unbeknown to us, this would become a decision, paramount to our departure of not only the Pit, but the Wilderness.
So, here is our time-line thus far- Devastation of the Pit, Saturday. Pit dwelling, Saturday-Tuesday. Dream 3, Wednesday. Friday- Mom's birthday (we'll visit that in a minute.) Saturday, leave for Dallas, Saturday......wreckage.
Mom's birthday........with the exception of a small group of friends, no one had any idea what had happened that week. But, those that did, had been reeling right along with us, for the better part of a week. We had pretty much been in seclusion, easy to do with 4th of July earlier in the week, until Friday, when Andy would be playing a gig. Andy attracts talent, amazing talent, but even more than that, he attracts amazing people, Godly, courageous, steadfast, burden bearing people. It's just gravy that they are musical phenoms. Getting to spend time with these good folks and their good folks, was always enjoyable. So off we went.
Totally a normal night, all my favorites there. I only share this because of a few key conversations. The first, was with my dearest "Smiths." We were talking about the fact that mom and I would be leaving town the next morning. Mother Smith asked if I was taking the babies.........and strangely I was not. I remember so distinctly, telling her that it had been a very difficult week and that for the first time, in their lives, I was leaving them at home. I'm a stay at home mom......if I go, babies go. Always have. Especially, with mom going with me........any other time, without exception, we would have taken the babies. You see, mom and I had made this same plan at least 5 times that year......"We're just gonna get away, just us, no kids, and decompress." And every time, schedules, life......guilt.......got in the way, and the few times we actually went anywhere, babies went. I told Mother Smith, that for some reason, I had such a peace about mom and I going alone. Even though it was inconvenient, as Andy was leaving in the morning for a youth camp. I knew in my spirit, this was a trip I needed to be on and I needed to be on it with my mom, and only my mom.
It was almost 10pm when we left Andy's gig and I took the babies home while he loaded up. For some reason, I felt so impressed to just enjoy how sweet and precious they were being. Usually, late nights spell blithering heaps of stickiness and yelping, but tonight being worn out had made them melt into goo of a different sort. They were simple and silly, giving kisses and hugs to me and each other, we sang and read and snugged. I just didn't want it to end and when Andy came home after 11 we were still snugged in. Daddy normally tucks in kiddos, but tonight I wanted to. I made sure to kiss each of their faces at least five more times. That night as I lay thinking about the week, the dear friends we were surrounded with and how God had blessed me with such a precious family......I began to pray over all of it, the more I prayed, the more I felt like I needed to pray and soon it became fear. "What if something happened? What if this wasn't the worst that it could be?" In the last year, we had seen so many heartbreaking losses of children, spouses and families. I felt burdened to pray over everyone, but wasn't sure why, I was trying to pinpoint why my spirit was so troubled and when I couldn't, began to really be consumed with fear. I couldn't let it go. I got back up and went to the kids rooms and began pleading the blood of Jesus over them, praying specifically for health, safety and their salvation. I then went to Andy, and again, began pleading the blood of Jesus over him, over his travels, his protection and safety. I went to bed feeling only somewhat at peace. Watchman Nee, in his book, Let Us Pray, talks about when you have a burden to pray for something, continue to be mindful of whether or not you feel released of that burden after prayer.......if you don't, persist in prayer, God intends to breakthrough something and wants you to be a part of it. I felt like I still had a burden and continued to pray on and off through the night.
We were leaving very early the next morning, so by 5, I was wide awake. As soon as I put my feet down, smack.....burdened again. I repeated my ritual, but this time I felt like I needed to pray for my own travels, I hadn't the night before. When mom and I met up, I told her about my restless night and we prayed together, for our safety, for our trip to be fruitful and relaxing. And then, off we went. That morning in the car, the conversation was different. It was free of anger, free of sadness or hopelessness. It seemed like since the dream, God had been speaking something different to us, to all of us. In the last couple of days, I know I had begun to feel like I had missed the mark somewhat. This was becoming less about the actions of another person and more about what God was intending for each of us, completely separate from our situation. The dream was a powerful thing for me, and it made me think "Wait a minute, are you talking to me Lord? Are you trying to wake me up to something or teach me something that is entirely independent of this situation?" I felt like the answer was, Yes. Definitely, Yes!
Mom and I had been on the road for 2 hours, having this exact conversation. There was no music, no phones, no sermons or texting. Just us, on the road talking. We had both become keenly aware, that God was doing something here, we didn't know what exactly, but it was much bigger than we had imagined. It was the beginning of letting go of our situation, and embracing that everything that had been consuming us, was becoming secondary to a much greater thing. We had stopped and switched drivers and now I was driving. Which is a good thing and a God thing. You see, I have been in a horrible car wreck before, years and years ago. But, it made me one of the few drivers I really trust. I always prefer to drive, or sit in front making sure the driver's awake and alert. I don't want to be in a car wreck, ever again. As we continued on, mom and I were having this exact conversation: Everything in the last 6 months had shown us what we lack as believers and what we, had desperately, hoped to see in our situation. And while it was disappointing, it was also clarifying to identify those things, so now we can pursue them. We had seen a lack of discernment, a lack of prayer, a lack of humility, a lack of courage, a lack of wisdom and a lack of accountability for months. Summed up- a lack of the Holy Spirit. In its earliest form, we saw roots become a stronghold. We saw up close and personal, how spiritual attack, pride and idolatry can take hold and destroy everything around it. And, even as believers, we were ill equipped to do anything about it. As Baptists, we were not trained in the art of War, which is not to say we weren't trying, we were relentless in our prayer, but we weren't using the weapons in our arsenal, we didn't know how. We thought fighting our own flesh, was offense enough. It was not. I thought as long a I could be proud of my conduct and choices, that was the only defense I needed. I was wrong. Nothing is won with defense alone. We were fighting oppression, darkness and principalities.........and we were losing. God has given us weapons of righteousness, weapons of war......He has given us not just divine armor for our defense, but weapons for attack, weapons that free captives and break chains. 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evilone. 17And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17
He has given us His Word, His Name and His Blood, which nothing can stand against. And that was the conversation we were having. I said "Mom, I feel like no matter what happens here, God has put a passion in us to pursue these things, to teach and equip others. If you just started with those three things, His Name, Blood and Word, and were diligent to teach them and master them.......we would be changing the world, changing churches and lives. There is a life that is powerful, that is bold and prays with authority, that we don't have and we need. We can never go back, we can never forget this."
I've shared a lot about my dad before, but my mom also has had a significant impact on my walk and faith. My mom has the gift of encouragement and as soon as this season began, she went immediately to the Word. Even though, she was fighting her own darkness and discouragement, she was faithful to return to God's word. Mom is a voracious reader, studier and pray-er and offered tremendous wisdom and counsel to all of us this year. Mom was seeing things and understanding things about what God was doing, long before I grasped it, long before most of us grasped it. She was sharing her journey and discovery of the same things and some of the preachers and books she had been reading lately, all pointing in the same direction.
I was just listening and driving, eyes forward and I must have been lost in thought and started to drift a little in my lane, nothing major, should have been easy to correct. Mom, not alarmed, just making sure I was paying attention, said "Sara!" And, that was it. I have no idea how the rest happened, it should have never happened. I should have been able to straighten up without any effort or disruption, but instead we were spinning out of control.
We were on I20, outside of Sweetwater, spinning out of control, on a Saturday morning. I don't know how many of you have ever been in a car that is spinning, but it goes slower than you think. In the car, things were standing, almost still. I had been in this place before, I was so intent on trying to remember how to turn into it and regain control, I know for sure I didn't take my foot off the gas pedal. I was a little embarrassed, honestly. I remember the first car wreck I was in, I was the passenger in my friend's car and I was looking at her as we spun, thinking how silly this was........why didn't she just stop spinning?! And now, I was in the driver's seat, feeling foolish and very sorry that I couldn't seem to do just that.....stop spinning.
Mom and I were very aware that there were steep bar ditches on either side, train tracks on one side and oncoming traffic on the other. We knew we weren't stopping and we knew we were headed for the ditch, on the track side. I just knew we were going to flip, I could see it in my mind......we were going so fast, it seemed inevitable that we were about to flip, either into another car, into the ditch, or onto the tracks. We were careening sideways towards the tracks and I could see them coming towards us through my moms window. I really felt so certain we were about to die, there were no thoughts of family or faces, no sentimental memories. Just the stark realization of what was only seconds away. I knew I couldn't fix this and I knew I needed help.
I began just shouting, screaming as loudly as I could..........."JESUS! JESUS! JESUS!" That was it, just His name, no pleas or other words, just the Name of Jesus. And, in an instant our car lifted up and still spinning, was hurled into a field, over the bar ditch, over the train tracks and into a plowed dirt field, at least 50 feet the other side of the tracks. We came crashing down so hard, the doors flew open, the trunk flew open, air bags deployed and the front wheels were almost bent in on themselves. The field around us was scattered with everything that had once been in the car, except us. We sat there a few minutes just stunned, checking to see if were alright. We got out of the car and saw immediately the people running towards us from the highway, stop in their tracks and just stare at us. We stood there all looking at each other in disbelief. One of the men, Steve Sides, from Abilene, snapped out of it and started running towards us again. He ran right up to me and said "I can't believe you just got out of that car, we just knew y'all were gone!" My mom and I started weeping and telling the group that had gathered around us what had just happened inside the car, how we had called on the Name of the Lord and how He had indeed, saved us. One of the men, a former highway trooper, said it was like the Dukes of Hazard, he told us how he had told his wife not to look and that we were about to be flipped or thrown from the car. He said right as his wife put her head in her hands, it was like our car was just "picked up, carried over the tracks and dropped, right into a field." We stood there with a group of strangers, crying and praising God. We knew and they knew, that this was a miracle. As I stood there, watching these kind people gather up our belongings and sort through what was salvageable, I was overcome looking at all of the debris, scattered on the road and field ...........understanding perfectly, why the babies had not come with us. I stood there next to my mom with my arms raised towards God, thanking and praising Him, that I wasn't looking at my baby's toys, sippy cups, car seats, blankets or tiny bodies strewn around us. The inside of the car was like a box that had just been picked up and shaken. Things that had been in the floor board were stuck into the interior lining on the roof. Zipped and locked bags, were fully open and their contents scattered over many yards. The top of the car and the hood were crunched into fine creases, everything was covered in dirt and splashed coffee. It smelled like hot metal and burning rubber and plastic. We were covered in the powder from the airbags, but neither our skin nor eyes burned (they never did.)
We stood in the field as all of this washed over us, trying to figure out what to do. Someone had already called 911 and was trying to tell them where we were. Mom and I shared our testimony of what had just happened with every curious person that stopped, the original group of helpers, the police, state troopers, wrecker service and anyone else that would listen. One of the troopers kept trying to get a report of what happened, he listened to mom a little, then came and asked me a few questions, a tad irritated he went to Mr. Sides, " Can you tell me where they flipped? They remember most everything that happened, but can't seem to tell me where they flipped. " I remember Mr. Sides telling the officer, that it was a miracle, but we had never flipped, we left the ground alright, but didn't flip. He then began telling us through tears how he had been at a wedding in Lubbock the night before and for some crazy reason, left his wife and kids asleep at their hotel and came on, towards home. He told us that his wife, was a little angry that he was so insistent on coming home a day early and without them, for no other reason than to mow the yard. He laughed, because he wasn't really sure why he wanted to leave either, but he did. He began sobbing and telling us that he had a rough year and that more than anything else in the world, he needed to see God be big and know that God was in control. And He had sure shown us that, hadn't He!
Everything we had been praying for, begging for, for months and months, was given to us on the side of the road, in a dirt field, surrounded by strangers. In an instant, God answered every prayer, every question and cry. And, every answer was YES. Our relentless prayer had been, "Are you there, God?! Do you see me? Do you care? Will you ever intervene?! Can you save us, can you fix this? Can you still move mountains?! Is there a purpose to all of this?? Are you big enough for this?!" We found out that day, that in Christ, everything is YES! He showed us that He was right there with us, hearing every word, seeing every out of control minute. He showed us that His intervention is neither too soon, or too late. He showed us that He was our Protector and that He is fierce and mighty. He showed us that there is power in the Name of Jesus!
We had been consumed for months, in the most excruciating stress, anxiety and despair. Even our bodies were showing the signs of this long-term battle, all of us, in some form or another, was suffering through insomnia, ulcers, depression, weight gain, weight loss, hair loss, muscle tension............our bodies ached , our hearts ached, for months...........and suddenly, I found myself in that field, totally worry free. I wasn't even worried about my parents car, that I had just totaled.......let's not forget that! I knew from that point on, that everything was going to be alright. Even if I didn't understand, I was completely at rest in my Father's care.
We called Andy and we called Dad. While Dad was on the phone with us, he began praying over us and reading scripture over us and then he texted that passage to me.........It will be important again soon. Psalm 116 1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me! ” 5 The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6 The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. 7 Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. 8 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, 9 that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. We weren't really sure what to do next, but the car was done, tied up on a truck and driven away. Mr. Sides gave us a ride into Sweetwater and we waited there for my dad to come get us. We stopped at a gas station and explained what had happened. They were so nice to us, they helped us unload the former contents of our car, into a back dining room and then closed it off, so we were the only two in there. It was just mom and I sitting across from each other at a long table, surrounded by empty chairs and we began to sob. We cried for a pretty good while, the waitresses-mistaking our tears for sorrow, would come by occasionally bringing ice water or wet towels, and just quietly pat us on the shoulder. When we were finally able to pull it together, Mom said, "Well, I'm not crying because I'm sad, are you?!" No, I replied. But, you go first. "This was a miracle, it was just for us, just exactly what God had been trying to show us. He is an ON-TIME God! Everything is going to be fine." We talked about it for a while and then we talked about what we should do when Dad finally got there. Do we go to Dallas or go home? Honestly, we could have done either and either would have been fine. But, the reason and motivation behind our road trip had changed entirely. We may go to Dallas, but we're not escaping or running anymore. We may go back home, but it wouldn't be to worry or try to figure out what would happen next. We could finally be content, wherever, with whomever, doing whatever. I began writing everything down in my journal while we talked it over.
Strangely, we decided "what the heck!" might as well go on with our plans. The kids were already squared away, reservations were already made............and actually, this was the first trip we took to relax, that just might serve it's intended purpose. People were worried about getting us checked out, but mom and I both knew, we didn't then and wouldn't be feeling pain. And, we didn't. Not a back twinge, whiplash, broken nail, we weren't burned, no broken ankles, nothing......not ever.
We ended up sitting there for a couple hours, even had a coke and a bit to eat. I saw dad pull in to the truck stop, so we got up to meet him. As he rounded the corner, I could tell his face was red and he had been crying. It seems he'd had his own moment on the drive. He finally spoke, "I saw where you went off the road........and I don't know how you didn't hit the train." WHAT TRAIN?! I didn't remember seeing a train at all. But, dad did. About 200 yards passed where we flew into the field, there sits about 40 old rail cars on the tracks. They've been there since I can remember, they never move. If we had spun 3 more times maybe, or stayed on the road another 30 seconds, we absolutely would have smashed right into the side of a train. Even though Dad hadn't been in the car with us, God showed him the same things He showed us. HE IS IN CONTROL.
Dad and our good friend, Dean, brought us an extra car and didn't even bat an eye when we told them we were headed to Dallas. This time, Mom drove. We had a much different conversation that half of the highway. I felt even more compelled to find answers, to figure out what the Lord was showing me. So, I called a few of my close friends and began relating what had happened that day. One of those phone calls, was to Autumn, I asked her if she knew of anyone that would have wisdom and direction for me............and just like God, she did.
That night, from our hotel, I emailed Terese Holloway for the first time ever.
If you are reading my blog and want to put this in context chronologically, this weekend was 2 weekends before "In My Father's House." "Wreckage" and everything that came after showed me a lot, but a few things in particular. It showed me there was simply no need to worry about anything, anymore. It showed me that God is in fact, very much in control. And, it showed me that we would be leaving Lubbock.
I'll spend more time on this in the next post, but God had a plan for us, even after we got to Dallas, and how we spent our time there, changed everything. And, on the drive home, past that same stretch of highway, was the first time God spoke to my heart, that we would not be staying. I had honestly never even considered it before.
About the Author: My name is Sara Johnson, I am a stay at home mom and the wife of a worship pastor in Texas. I started sharing through Notes From The Cleft last year as a way to communicate with our church and ministry partners, how gracious and faithful God has been to our family over the years. I love being in ministry and I love teaching God's word and helping others apply it their own lives. This posting is from the middle of a series that began in January. You can find me on the web at http://notesfromthecleft.blogspot.com