Car Journey Chaos
Yesterday I made the biggest navigational driving error of my life to date, that caused us two hours extra on an already 4-hour journey, through the centre of London, at rush hour. How is this even possible?! Details at the bottom of the article, if you are interested in the logistics.** A few years ago I took a wrong turn in the outback of Australia and had to turn around and drive about 45 minutes back in the direction we had just come. I thought that was bad, but this was worse. No kangaroos, no sunshine, just traffic, pollution and rush hour aggression! Lord preserve us!
When sat nav diagnosed that another 2 hours had been added to the journey shame and despair made me want to disappear, scream, pull over, abandon the car, give up on driving, stay in London forever or be swept up in a premature rapture. Anything rather than sitting through the dire consequences of autopilot oblivion. Then came the denial wave, quickly followed by blame. It wasn’t my fault, it was Dom’s! Praise God, I managed to mostly bite my tongue while those waves hit the shore, whilst still considering abandoning ship and running off into the night!
Every part of my spiritual fibre was tested on that journey- having to dig very deep to find peace, joy and victory, in the face of the circumstances. (To anyone reading this who is dealing with far more serious struggles, please forgive my melodrama. I am aware that it is small fry in the big scheme of things. But I am also aware and grateful that God can use all sorts of situations to teach us a lesson. Yesterday the car was my learning ground.)
The journey had started off badly. Dom was processing difficult stuff and set off in the wrong direction. We were just getting through that, worshipping and returning to a place of joy and peace in our hearts, when we received even worse news. This time I felt like I had been punched in the gut. We both bubbled with the full gamut of emotions, from disbelief to rage and despair!
Melissa and Jonathan David Helser had been talking about staying centred in life and ministry in the podcast I was listening to at the time. Melissa was teaching about dependence on the Holy Spirit. How we are meant to grow up into dependency on Holy Spirit, rather than grow up into independence, as the world would teach. She told how she speaks out loud to Holy Spirit all day, asking for wisdom and help as situations arise in parenting, marriage and ministry that she doesn’t know how to deal with. Freshly inspired I called out to the Holy Spirit ‘HEEELLPPP! I don’t know how to deal with this situation. I want to lose it at someone. Where are you Holy Spirit? Where are you Jesus?’
I felt the still small voice ‘I am right here, I am with you’. I then became aware that the situation we were facing wasn’t so much the issue, but how I chose to react to it was. God can change the circumstances in an instant and supernaturally open doors- not an issue. But he cannot decide how I react- that is my choice. My options were despair and trying to fix it in my own strength, or trusting God. I told Dom and we put the music back on and started to worship God, declaring our trust in him and that He can move mountains. Epic song!! We had the most glorious worship time imaginable. I had to concentrate to keep my hands on the wheel, as I honestly wanted to throw them up and praise God. My face was beaming, I could feel it. I was bursting with joy! It was a miracle! Looking across at my glowing husband next to me, you would not have known that we had just received terrible news! I had the idea to have a party when we got home. To open a bottle of prosecco and have a feast in the midst of the struggles. (Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows)
Woohoo- we had got the victory- at the crossroads of despair and hope, we had chosen hope and joy had rushed in like a flood. It was awesome. We thought we had it in the bag, but our next training exercise was on its way!
So I found out I had added two hours to our journey by missing the turn, was hit by regret and despair and again had to call out ‘JJESSSUUUSSSS where are you?!?’ So fast my thoughts had been clouded with darkness, ushered in by shame. ‘JESUS who am I? How do you see this?’ ‘You are holy, blameless, without reproach. You are forgiven, You are righteous before Me’. Yes, peace returns. I made a mistake, but it is ok. Jesus washes me with His blood time and time again, covering my sin and making me white as snow. At Bethel they teach about ‘clearing up after yourself’. Making a mistake is not such a terrible thing, if you just learn how to clear it up well- say sorry where you need to, make amends where you can. I want to grow in that, so I knew deserting the car and running away was not an option. I had to say sorry to Dom, receive Jesus’ forgiveness, turn my back on shame and get us home safely and joyfully.
Easier said than done, as sadly this was not the last wrong turn of the journey - there were quite few more as went through London! With every one the battle between shame and love reared its head. The desire to despair and give up as opposed to remain in peace and thank God. Dom turned to me and asked ‘what five things are you grateful for?’ YES- GOOD QUESTION! ‘I am grateful that I didn’t pull over and run away. I am grateful to see all of the buildings in London at a slow pace. I am grateful for our worship time earlier….. So we fought our way back to peace and gratitude again and Steve Backlund's podcast went straight back on the speakers. My mind clearly needed more renewal!!!! ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength. You don’t need joy at the end of the battle, you need it in the middle’. YES STEVE! LORD, please give me joy and your perspective in the middle of this traffic jam!!!
8 podcasts later we made it home, with a whole lot more fodder for rejoicing in the midst of trial under our belt. Praise God, we never stop learning! Don’t waste your trials- there is always upgrade available and provision for the trial. Yesterday we got an upgrade. We got joy and bigger trust and gratitude muscles, whilst situation after situation seemed to go wrong. The devil will not have the last laugh, as long as we keep running back to Jesus and asking Him to come and help and lead us in victory in the midst of the mess. AND we still managed to have prosecco and a delicious supper upon arrival. Yeee haa!
**(We were driving to Kent from Wales. Approaching London on the M40, we were meant to neatly skirt all the way around London on the M25, smugly avoiding the machinations of the city, to arrive at Sevenoaks, just south of the M25. Easy peasy. Inwardly I praised God for this time in our life that we don’t live in London and don’t have to do that extra hour of standstill traffic just to get home…. no such luck! Somehow driving in autopilot, I missed the M25 turning and only realised I had done so when we right arrived into London, a long way on. By this point turning around was not an option and sat nav told us that our fastest way home was now another two hours, right through the centre of London and out the other side!)