While vacationing last week, it happened again – I ended up driving on lonely, dark, country roads. This time in North Carolina and South Carolina. Our family was heading to Myrtle Beach for a family vacation and to support my husband and his AAU basketball team for a tournament.
After stopping to visiting family in Rocky Mount, NC, I offered to drive the final leg of our journey, which was only a few more hours.
Ninety minutes into the drive, our navigation directed us off the highway to an exit that led to nothing but darkness. I glanced at the screen, which showed that we were still over an hour away from our destination.
AN HOUR! I literally pouted and fussed at God in my mind for not giving me a better route to take! He could have at least led me to a two-lane road with lights!
Next week I’ll be back with a lesson I discovered from that drive. But today I want to share a similar experience that I blogged about a couple of years ago.
Now, this escapade was nowhere near as dreadful as “The Trip Straight Out of a Horror Movie”, but I still had to fight off fear at different times throughout the journey until we finally approached the outskirts of Myrtle Beach. I hope this memory is a great reminder that we can always trust God.
The nation observed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Day of Service this past Monday. This time of year also brings MLK holiday weekend sports tournaments throughout the country; we were headed to a volleyball tournament in Richmond, Virginia, which was about four hours away.
All week there had been reports of an impending snowstorm – you know the doom and gloom that weather forecasters love to predict at the slightest hint of snow. I had to intentionally keep my mind in check and not let fear run amok as driving in the snow causes me great stress.
Before I left, I was declaring over and speaking to the weather, and I maintained my peace, even as our governor declared a state of emergency and our church rescheduled service in anticipation of inclement weather.
On this road trip, it was just me and Kass. Thankfully, the weather forecasters got it wrong – there was no storm, and our trip was smooth and uneventful going down and coming back up. But it did bring to mind a similar situation that happened a year earlier, again during MLK’s holiday weekend.
Kennedi had just experienced a concussion from a volleyball hit to her head the week we were scheduled to leave for their MLK volleyball tournament. I had to change plans as she could no longer travel with us. I found myself on another road trip with Kass, this time to York, PA. We left home later than originally planned, so it was pretty dark by the time we started our journey.
I had traveled to York several times over the years and knew the general direction I should have been headed in, but my navigation app had me going an unfamiliar route. Instead of crossing the state line right into Pennsylvania and heading West to York, I was routed through Delaware and Maryland, and back up to Pennsylvania. And as soon as I got off the highway and onto the country roads, this is when “The Trip Straight Out of a Horror Movie” (as I now jokingly call it) began.
I literally could have been on location shooting a major Hollywood horror flick. I’m sure movie studios pay thousands of dollars to create the scene I experienced that night. First, the fog appeared, as the weather was warming up after a week of cold temperatures. That wasn’t too bad at first, and after mentioning it, Kass was soon off to sleep. I put my favorite Praise and Worship playlist and planned to sing at the top of my lungs so that I would stay alert for the next hour until we arrived at the hotel.
Soon, I noticed the road became tighter, and there was no space between the road and the drop-off at the edge. It appeared if I went off the road, I would have veered down into a cliff. So, I gripped my wheel tighter and drove slower.
There were no more streetlights and I was driving in pitch black. Next came the forest of burned-out trees on my left. That sight, along with the continued fog was so eerie, and then the road suddenly got bumpy, and the entire car was shaking as I was driving. It was as if my car were driving over dead bodies, reminding me of a particularly distressing scene in the movie Hotel Rwanda; my heart was pounding so hard that it could have jumped out of my chest.
I glanced in the rearview mirror, thankful that Kass was still asleep. I was having a hard enough time maintaining my composure, and I could hardly imagine how she would have reacted if she had been awake.
I felt myself in Flight mode, as my vital statistics were elevated. I was experiencing the adrenaline rush that comes when your body feels endangered and threatened. I repeated today’s scripture over and over – God you are with me, I will not fear.
To counteract my pounding heart and sweaty palms, I started taking deep breaths to calm my mind and body down. I turned the music up trying to drown out my thoughts. It was all I could do, I never thought to call anyone the entire time, I just wanted to stay connected to God. I KNEW He was with me, but I had seen enough horror movies similar to the scenery I was driving in, and I was literally fighting off the fear with everything in me.
Just when I thought I finally had myself together, the road veered into a one-lane rickety bridge. I continued struggling internally, trying to fight off fear, while feeling absolutely terrified. I am not exaggerating here – I was fully expecting a Loch Ness Monster-ish creature to rise out of that fog and mist-covered water. It makes me laugh now, but if something had come out of the water that night, I honestly would not have been shocked! Even though I know Nessie doesn’t exist, our minds can have us believing certain situations or outcomes that aren’t even earthly possible.
By the time the car with the bright headlights started tailing me and seemed to be following my every turn for about 10 minutes, I was mentally exhausted but still on heightened alert, feeling like my life was still in danger. I anxiously kept glancing out of my rear-view mirror, wondering who was in that car, why they were following me, and what they were planning to do. When they finally turned off a different way and I saw the bright lights of a town in the distance, I breathed a sigh of relief.
I often wonder how that road looks in the daylight. I’m sure if I took that route on a beautiful sunny day, it would have been a much different experience. How many times has our enemy worked to create a terrifying scenario in our minds to paralyze us in fear? Only to have us look back at our past, realizing that we worked ourselves up for nothing?
If you are living in fear concerning any situation, I encourage you today – things are not always what they seem. Our enemy loves to play mind games with us, causing us to react based on fear, often taking us off the path God has designed for us. I’m going to travel down that road again one day. I must see for myself what had me so scared in the shadows of the night. I know I will laugh and be reminded once again that no matter what my perception may be, that God is always with me.
How many times have fictionalized things you’ve read or seen on TV affected your thinking or decision-making?
How can that be avoided in the future? What unknown outcome has you fearful today? Do you believe God is with you, to provide peace, protection, and comfort? How does that change your thoughts on the situation now?
PRAY WITH ME
Thank you for being my protector. When I find myself in seemingly dangerous situations, I will try not to be fearful and remember that you are always with me.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
Share this story with someone in your life to encourage them!