Two days and one night in the desert proved to be my breaking point. After that horrible loneliness of my night drive into Toponah, Nevada, I found the next day incomparably worse. A constant nagging rattle was coming from the rear of the car, and just like that, that haunting heavy loneliness was trumped by cold cold fear.
Forget the bright shining sun. I was still alone on what the state of Nevada is, in my opinion, erroneously calling a highway, but now I have the burden of believing that at any moment, my car will lock up and shut down.
And who cares what might be wrong with it? I don’t have the money for the repairs. In fact, I barely have the funds for two more nights in a seedy hotel and gas to the Grand Canyon. The more I recount the expenses ahead and tally those needs against the money in my purse, the more faint hearted I become. The more faint hearted I become, the heavier the block of fear is standing on my chest. I was so bound by the weight and sensibility of my terror, I didn’t even think to pray. So I can’t tell you when it started, only that I heard myself doing it…
“God I believe in my heart and soul that this journey is of You. That You not only Provided for it, but ordained it. Lord, You led me out here, not to kill me, but to bless me. There are a thousand ways to get to where I’m going but You said “This way” and I trusted You. Lord I still trust You but this is looking like a hot crazy dangerous mess right now and I need Your peace. I’m cracking. I’m falling apart. It’s impossible for You to do anything concerning Your children that isn’t God-good so what is this about, Lord?”
I cried and wailed like that until the pleas of fear and desperation turned into a garment of praise. When it came, I lifted it high and wore it like a banner! Jehovan Nissi lives!!! I praised God in that car until I had a headache, until peace was once again, undisturbed.
When I stopped my car in Indian Springs, with all rationality, like the treachery of the previous hours hadn’t even happened, like the only thing I’d been waiting on was a safe place to pull over, I walked right straight to the source of that rattle. My favorite teacup & saucer in the back seat had somehow shifted loose & shaky.
In the quiet, with the tormentor silenced, I found the loneliness was gone, too. I was so connected to God. I prayed again:
“Lord, I thank You. For being an omnipresent God I can’t outtravel or outrun, for Your ever present eye, I thank You. I bless You for being the God that had I broken down back there, You wouldn’t have tormented me with the particulars, You would have just smoothly and lovingly laid the needed solution at my feet. I bless You for using every ounce of this trip to show me I live in the palm of Your hand. You are my ever sustaining Protector and Provider. I trust You, Father. Wherever You lead me, I will go…in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Seconds later a text message came in from my Dad in Dallas, Texas. “Come live with me” was all it said. Now you might not believe this, but I responded something like this, “thanks but no thanks.”
Unbelievable right? My Dad hadn’t extended an offer like that in over 20 years. The ‘where You lead me I will go prayer’ was still hot from my breath but I couldn’t see the correlation.
I’ve asked myself a thousand times how He can be so plain and yet so hard to see. For the most part, I think we’re so well adapted in our thinking we can’t help but see God as slightly ridiculous with His unlikely offers and unforeseen suggestions.
So I’ll make this long story short: The Miles didn’t end when I, after 46 days on the road, went back home to NC. The end came two weeks later after a whirlwind of events led me, on March 31st, to finally park my car in Daddy’s driveway in Dallas, Texas.
God-friends tell me they aren’t shocked, that you can’t drive 8,000 miles cross country and return to life as usual. I’m sort of glad nobody mentioned this before I left because that’s exactly what I intended to do. I might’ve never started out on that first I-40w leg of The Miles had I suspected God would use the opportunity to turn the whole garment of my life inside out.
And now I’m here. Mostly settled in and ready for yet another journey in foreign territory. I was ready to give up just before this move. Give up ‘on what’ or ‘to whom’ I don’t know, just that I was so very exhausted.
You see, I took the promise personally God made to make the names of His “walk by faith, not by sight” children great. Don’t ask me why I thought it would be quick and painless, but I did. I thought I’d walk out of the post office right into the fulfillment of the dream. Not!
A wilderness for the Promised Land exchange did not happen as expected when I left High Point, NC for New York City; or the City for Nashville; or there for those “home again” multiple moves. I remember God telling me once in a voice so clear,
“The New Testament Promised Land is not a place. It is a mindset.”
I have learned the same is true of the wilderness. It’s not about land boundaries or the enemy that lays in wait inside them. It’s all about the dream, God’s as well as ours. It was His dream I walked into that ’08 July day, traversing postal property with my hopes and heart so high.
God’s dream comes first: the desire to be blindly trusted for His ever present faithfulness even though the road lies full of darkness, deficiency, despair, and defeat. His dream fulfilled, and first, and thank God because without this order, we would never be well suited for these God-good dreams of ours.