Friday, August 22, 2014

The Journey

I’m about to celebrate a birthday, which has directed my thoughts to all that transpired since the last one. Last year, on the day after my birthday, there was a vote which led to a church split, which is a significant event for church staff members and their families. Then we had a fire. Then my husband died.

It’s been quite a year.

The fact that the path my life has taken has been so hilly and full of curves has made a recent series of events seem even more interesting than it might have been otherwise. Here’s the story.

Dan’s sisters kindly invited me to join them on a trip to Yellowstone, so I gratefully packed up my tent. My oldest son was able to join us and flew into town so that he could drive my car. He had a couple of audiobooks and a variety of music for us to listen to along the way.

We traveled with the others and were usually following rather than leading. As is often the case when exploring a new area, getting from Point A to Point B sometimes required turning around. At one point, just as the lead car was stopping to reverse direction, the singer we were listening to sang “Turn around.”  We laughed at that, and turned around.

The next day we found ourselves once again unsure of the route. We found it amusing that, as we were wandering about, the music asked “Where are we?” and added “There are mountains.”

Those who’ve been to Yellowstone know the excitement of seeing animals in the wild. They also know that the excitement is sometimes tempered with impatience at the traffic jams caused by people stopping in the middle of the road. We were following a car that slowed to watch some buffalo. At that moment, the lyrics coming through our car’s sound system were “Don’t slow down.”

We got a kick out of this narration of our trip. As we headed for home, though, things got even more interesting.

Although we had arrived by a different route, we decided to return by the roads that took us through the Tetons and near the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming. We stopped and enjoyed the beauty. Then we got in the car, turned the music on, and heard the singer sing about being led to Jackson.

The strangest incident occurred later that day. We continued our drive through Wyoming, passing through the Wind River valley. We wondered aloud whether to pronounce it with a short vowel sound or long, unsure of whether the river was named after a breeze or the circuitous route it took. We got our answer. We were listening to an audiobook about an astronaut stranded on Mars. The narrator began discussing a battery—a battery made by the Wind River Company (pronounced with a short vowel sound, by the way). The Wind River mentioned in a book about Mars?  My son and I stared at each other in amazement.

There was one day left on our trip. By this time I expected a narration moment and I got one. We had been listening to music and I had been falling asleep. I didn’t want to sleep through the end of the book, though, and I knew we needed to start listening to it soon if we were going to finish it before we got home. As I tried to rouse myself so that we could make the switch, the singer sang “I’ll try to stay awake.”

Was all that coincidence?  Some will say so, but that’s not how I see it. I think a merciful God was simply saying, “I see you, Martha. I’m with you on this journey.”

I have no idea what this next year holds. There could be more disasters or a miraculous healing. There could be both. Whatever comes, though, I’m confident that God is with me.

He’s with me on this journey. He's with you, too.