The other day we made turkey-and-cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread and packed oranges and a plate of cookies my friend made into a cooler bag. We piled the five of us into our royal blue truck and went for a drive. Some local friends recently posted pictures on Facebook of a beautiful lake they found about an hour from our house, and I had to see it with my own eyes.
I needed some fresh air and an excuse to drive. I needed space to think.
It had been four weeks of sheltering at home during COVID-19. Our souls needed space to breathe on that Good Friday.
“Where are we going, Mom?” my middle girl needed to know.
“Somewhere we’ve never been before,” I replied. “It’s an adventure!”
She looked at me side-eyed. She wasn’t satisfied with my answer.
Thankfully, my husband is always up for the ride and goes along without lots of questions.
We drove toward the expanse of mountains just beyond our city. They were vast, blue, hopeful from this vantage point. Great, billowing clouds hovered above the hills.
“That’s beautiful,” my oldest daughter whispered from the back seat. I smiled quietly to myself and kept driving.
We turned right off the main highway on Road 200 heading toward the town of North Fork. The road meandered and curved. We galloped past dilapidated houses and breathtaking fields dressed in yellow wildflowers. Squirrels dashed across our path, and wild turkeys played tag in the brush.
We finally found a sign that pointed to Redinger Lake. At least we knew we were headed in the right direction. The road narrowed, and pavement gave way to gravel. I noted that only one vehicle could fit around the steep curves so it might get interesting if someone was trying to drive the other direction.
We drove and drove and drove. My littlest one started feeling car sick so we made her close her eyes and try to rest. I could feel our collective adrenaline rising as we sat quietly, eyes peeled out the window.
No signs of water.
In so many ways, this is how the last several weeks “sheltering at home” and staring down the barrel of a COVID-19 pandemic have felt. We didn’t know what was ahead. We didn’t know how long the journey might be. We tried to stay hopeful, but we were also aware of the danger, sickness, and grief so many were experiencing. It was hard to trust. It was hard to stay the course.
I felt all kinds of pressure as the driver. Not only was I navigating my own emotions, but I was also trying to balance the feelings and fears of my family. I kept looking at my husband, asking him what the GPS said. I had decision fatigue. Simple things felt heavy and hard. And some days the news changed every hour so we simply leaned toward each other and prayed.
Then I saw it out of the corner of my eye: a slip of brilliant blue. Could it be? There, between the trees!
Yes, it was water.
“Maybe we should turn around, Mom,” one of my girls said exactly at that moment..
“Oh no, check this out!” I pointed.
We rounded the bend and below us we could see the curve and line of the lake. Blue sky gave way to verdant green hills that dipped down low to rippling water. The lake — a huge lake danced before our eyes.
Here’s the truth: we never made it down to water’s edge that day. The journey was just too long, and we worried about getting home before dark. I finally pulled the truck over, and we snapped a family photo. I gazed out over the landscape for just a few moments.
Although it was vastly different, I couldn’t help but think of the hill Jesus climbed so He could fulfill His purpose. All of these rugged trees meeting the serene water reminded me of that rugged cross holding His body.
And just as we cry out to God today if there’s any way to avoid all this suffering, our own Savior cried out too, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42, ESV).
He accepted His calling. He embraced the inconvenient, the illogical, the isolation, the senseless, and the suffering of it all. He walked with His Father every step of the way.
We, too, must journey on.
We must keep driving on this windy road.
We must give ourselves permission to grieve and lament our losses.
We must cling to hope that there’s a lake and water and respite just around the bend.
We must trust the Father who sees the whole landscape even now.
What’s one way God is calling you to step forward in hope right now?
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