You can’t get there from here without crossing some mountains.
Since moving to South Carolina in 1980, my husband and I have wound our way up Interstate 40 through the mountains of Western North Carolina and East Tennessee at least 80 times, give or take, to return to Indiana to visit our extended families.
We’ve made that trip in all kinds of vehicles, the worst being the 1977 Ford Pinto I drove down when we first moved here. That car had about as much zip as a tricycle and, mind you, that was when Pintos were in the news for literally blowing up if they were rear-ended. Merging onto busy interstates in that car severely over-taxed my adrenal glands, to put it mildly.
The stretch of I-40 between Asheville and Knoxville should be a highlight of our trip to Indiana, winding as it does through the scenic Smoky Mountains. God’s creative majesty is on display at every turn up there and yes, it always makes my heart want to burst forth in song.
Unfortunately, that song is usually “Nearer my God to Thee” as it seems we always round those mountain curves precariously sandwiched between a ginormous truck and a concrete barrier. I’m keenly aware that even a momentary lapse in concentration from any driver in the herd could result in us all being launched into eternity.
As I like to say, it’s not the “being dead” that scares me; it’s the “getting dead.”
Snaking our way through those mountains, I tend not to see the beautiful scenery around us, but instead fixate upon the distance between my side of the car and the wheels of whatever truck we’re currently dancing with. If I deem that distance to be insufficient, a physical phenomenon occurs in my body that I call, if you’ll pardon the indelicacy, a “slam-a-jamma.” I’ve heard others call it “drawing up.”
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let’s just say I get very tense.
Over the years, I’ve observed that the number and intensity of slam-a-jammas I experience seem to be related to the size of the vehicle I’m driving or riding in. While the Pinto, that little Molotov cocktail on wheels, felt the least safe, I felt most secure in our big, honkin’ Ford 350 diesel truck we drove up north one time to pick up some furniture from my aunt.
On that trip, with the exception of 18-wheelers and RVs, we were bigger than most of the other vehicles on the road, and that felt good. We nearly had to refinance our house to pay for the gas, but it was worth it because I was riding high in something big, and bigger felt safer.
I think that’ll preach.
In a very real sense, I should feel safe all the time because as a follower of Christ, He lives in me through His Spirit and I’m spiritually positioned “in Him” (see Ephesians 2:6). And believe me, Christ is no wimpy “Pinto.”
He’s aware of and more than able to handle everything that threatens me, whether it’s an 18-wheeler drifting into my lane or a cancer cell in my body. What He doesn’t choose to deliver me from, His delivers me through.
And being positioned “in Christ” opens up a higher, eternal perspective on everything, if I simply choose to take advantage of that. Nothing calms my fear more quickly than zooming out from my small viewpoint to see God’s big picture.
There’s no way to get through this life without encountering some mountains, but the journey through them is a lot less scary if we’re “riding high” in the biggest thing on the road — the good, loving and sovereign hands of God.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” – Psalm 56:3