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On the Side - January 2012

Guidance, Direction and Following the Light?
by Carol Shrader

My family recently made a three-day drive in order to move my Mother-in-law across the country. My husband drove the U-Haul truck with one of our sons at his side while I drove her car with our other three kids as my passengers.

We had been singing Christmas Carols and talking non-stop in my car for a day and a half (no surprise, I had the girls! Poor Benjamin.). The sky had been dreary all day and though we had been driving in fog and spitting rain, it had not been horrible in the daylight. But then the sun went down. The sky turned dark as pitch and the bottom fell out in a torrential downpour that wiped out visibility.

Even as my grip tightened on the steering wheel, my phone began to ring. Claire answered and I could hear Wade on the other end.

Wade: “Mom doesn’t like driving at night or in the rain.”

Claire: “I know, Dad.”

Wade: “Tell her she can do this. She just needs to stay right behind me. Tell her to follow my lights. I will get us to a hotel as soon as I can.”

The lights on the back of his truck were bright. I knew he was right. I could just follow them. And for stretches – in what felt like hours and hours of driving – I could do just that. But then fear would grip me, and I would ease off the accelerator a bit, trying with all my own vision to get my bearings around me. The storm was raging and I could not see anything through the rain. And worse, in my fear, I had slowed to the point of losing sight of the taillights on my husband’s truck.

Ever vigilant, Wade would call again.

“How is Mom? Tell her she doesn’t need to see anything but my taillights. I will get her there. She just has to stay with me.”

Ah, it was a matter of trust, right? I needed to quit trying to see the road with my own might and trust Wade to see it for me. Once I did that, we were able to stay together and make it safely to our hotel. (And then work to pry my hands from the steering wheel.)

What an example for us as we drive into a brand new year. So often, we strain our eyes trying with all our own might to see what this year will hold. But God is calling, encouraging, urging us even, to let Him do the driving.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

I like The Message translation as well:

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”

My driving experience somewhere in Arkansas absolutely mirrors my faith walk in certain seasons.

When my husband began his residency, we had three two-year-olds and I was completely overwhelmed because I could not SEE how we could possibly navigate the five years. Choosing to trust God to keep me on track in spite of the fact that doing so meant giving up my right to control all our paths was a day-to-day effort.

Storms still come even now that residency is behind us. And still, I struggle to relinquish my grip on the steering wheel and give control to an Almighty God – redeemer, creator and savior – who wants only what is best for me.

Dear friends, as we look toward a New Year, my prayer for you – and me -- is that we will release our grip on the steering wheel, trusting God to direct all our paths.


Carol Shrader lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her wonderful Wade and four amazing kiddos, Benjamin, Mason, Claire (all 14) and Cate (6). She is so thankful that her desert-home means she rarely drives in the rain.