Tuesday, January 28, 2014 is a day that we in Birmingham will long remember – the light dusting of snow that suddenly and unexpectedly became chaos of epic proportions. In a city that rarely has to handle winter weather, our usual defense against it is to cancel everything and stay home. But this day started out business as usual, expecting nothing more than a few insignificant snow flurries. Suddenly and unexpectedly the temperatures dropped and dropped and the snow fell and fell and fell, and parents rushed to get their children at school and working people rushed to get home, and the streets quickly became an icy car strewn mess resembling an apocalyptic movie set.
My son called me thinking he would come down to work on his truck since he was getting off work early. His voice changed dramatically as his truck began to slip on the icy street. This mother’s heart skipped a few beats while he regained control and shifted into 4 wheel drive. Plans changed and he headed toward his apartment to weather out the storm, not realizing that his sliding truck was multiplied thousands of times across the city.
His next call to me was not of plans or panic, but frustration at the gridlock he was in. Cars everywhere, not moving. I pulled it all up on my computer and we talked of other possible routes. He inched forward. There was no going back, only hopeful inching forward.
The next call was encouraging. An ambulance had pulled out and traffic appeared to be creeping forward. But by now there were abandoned cars on the road, sticking out into traffic. He couldn’t see any lines on the street, they were covered with ice and snow. Hazards on every side. And his truck was beginning to overheat. He could see several church steeples ahead, surely one of them would be open and he could let his truck cool off and himself warm up, and maybe some of the traffic would clear.
A half hour later he called again, he had taken shelter not in a church, the church was locked, but in a day care. Some walkers had also stopped there to warm up before trekking on. I was frantically looking for alternate routes. There were none. I thought of who I knew in the area, nobody on his route. There was nothing to do but drive forward, inching and creeping toward home. I stared at the computer screen and prayed.
The next call he was finally approaching the interstate. Nearly 4 hours had passed since his first call. I was looking at traffic maps and there was no way he would ever make it to his apartment. Every road was blocked. But south, toward our house, looked like it might be passable. I suggested he come here, and he headed south. And he made it. I began to breathe again as he walked into the house. By then I had seen the pictures and heard the reports from all over the Birmingham area, and I realized how blessed he was to have made it out. So many people were trapped in their cars or at work or wherever they could find shelter. Children trapped in schools, little ones trapped in daycare, I knew how I would feel if I couldn’t get to my child in the midst of this chaos and danger.
Several days later the sun is shining, the roads are cleared, and life is continuing on. My daughter called on her way home for a visit from college… first with car problems and then with stopped traffic and detours on the interstate. She needed advice and help and directions. As I sit and ponder the past week, I realize how much my children’s journeys are like my own life.
I am often sliding down a slippery road full of hazards. I can’t see the big picture, only the road in front of me. I call, not to a fallible earthly parent, but to a sovereign omniscient God who can see the whole thing: where I’ve been, where I’m going, the conditions of the road, the weather, everything. Not just see it, but He created it, He directs it, He laid the plans for all the events of my life, and He’s actually there with me in it. I call to Him and He gives me the direction I need to creep along the road. He provides shelter in unlikely places. He keeps me safe until I get home, truly home, in Heaven. My road, no matter what the turnings and twistings and hazards are, will surely lead me Home, because He has called me to Himself, and He Himself hangs on to me. I am not in control of the weather or the road conditions or the other cars or even whether my own vehicle will break down. But He is, and He is with me the whole way through. And eventually, even after many wrong turns and stalls and even wrecks, He will bring me safely home.
May I call on Him for help as naturally as my children call on me.
©Rebecca A Givens, 02/03/14