Day 5. I woke up later than usual in a little motel called The Welsh in Wall, South Dakota. (And no, I did not go to Wall Drug although it was right across the street. I didn't know I was supposed to. Tho its apparent fame does explain all the billboards for it on the interstate.) :P
Getting to the Welsh had been quite the journey the night before. I was exhausted, but I felt God urging me to press on closer to home that night. I wanted to stop in Wyoming, but felt He said to keep going into South Dakota. I kept driving, hearing "not yet." "5 more minutes." "1 more exit." Milestones, all of them, not destinations. Driving thru Rapid City, "See? And you said you would never make it this far." There were times when this conversation felt extremely frustrating, and at one point I was seriously questioning whether any of this was really God talking, or if I was having a conversation with my perfectionist, over-achieving self and if, really, I should have stopped hours earlier... and I drove past a billboard that said, "I am the Good Shepherd." And I had to laugh. "My sheep know my voice, Hap." So I kept driving.
"Almost there. You'll know it when you see it."
"I have no idea what I'm looking for, Lord."
"I know. Kind of fun, isn't it?"
pause. "Well, yes, actually..."
More driving. Looking for a sign (literal or metaphorical). Nothing, for a long time. And then, just as I was about to hit the proverbial wall, there were the signs. "Wall, South Dakota." Ha ha. So I stopped, and spent the night rooming in one of the coziest little motels I've ever seen. My room would have fit perfectly in any secluded retreat center, it was so peacefully and artfully decorated - I felt I'd come home.
As I was leaving in the morning, God said, "Hap, no matter what happens today, I want you to trust Me, and I want you to praise Me." okay... So, you would think that after the four days of incredible rest I had been experiencing that quiet trust would come easily. Apparently not. I started to worry... what if my car broke down in the middle of nowhere? what if I got in an accident? what if something happened to someone I cared about and I was stuck two days from home still and couldn't get to them? what if, what if, what if.... and God let me get away with that all the way to Minnesota. Even stopping at Al's (where the coffee is still 5 cents!) for lunch did not alleviate my concerns for long. (should I even be here? maybe i should have kept going...) I was second-guessing everything I did, and I was tired, and cranky, and... oh. I am so sorry, Lord. I haven't really trusted You today.
"Sometimes 'what happens' to you is emotional, too, Hap. No matter what, I want you to trust Me, and I want you to praise Me."
Got it. (Minnesota, already a beautiful state to drive through, was an even more pleasant drive after that.) :) And the first part of Wisconsin... and then I started thinking about finding a place to stop. I wanted to rest, journal, maybe take a walk somewhere and watch the sunset. I just wanted to be with God, somewhere other than my car.
And I couldn't find anywhere to stay. Every place I stopped was either sketchy, too expensive, or booked. And then I was close to the Dells and it was a Thursday night, so there was no point in stopping - and then I was past them - and then I was just a few short hours from home, so what was the point in spending that kind of money when I could just go home? So I drove through the night and got home sometime between 2 and 3 am. It was craziness. But it was also kind of fun...
And God sustained me. And at the end of that very long day, I went to sleep, praising Him for His goodness and for bringing me home.
That night I was driving through South Dakota, before I found a place to stay, when I was so exhausted but felt God urging me to keep going... He said, "Do you feel me sustaining you?" and I did. I really did... I could feel the strength and the ability to simply keep going that He was giving me. And what I think He said then is this: "I'm going to give you rest this year - more periods of longer rest than you might imagine at this point - but there will be seasons where you will have to plow a little harder, too. In those times, because you have been at rest, you will be able to run hard and be at rest internally - you will feel Me sustaining you. Even when you are very tired, remember, I will sustain you."
How could I have forgotten so quickly? And yet... the object lesson stuck with me once I realized on that last day what I'd done.
The entire trip (and this is only the briefest account of it!) felt like one great metaphor for life and this journey I - we - are on. It was about being at rest, learning to hear His voice, living out of that place of abiding in His presence even when things are busy and/or uncertain, trusting Him, following Him. It was about learning how to allow the Lord to sustain me, rather than trying to do it myself.
Years ago, one of the chaplains at Hope preached on a verse from the psalms, and I can't find it this morning, but it says, "I lie down, I sleep, I wake again; the Lord sustains me." And he talked about the connection between the two parts of that verse - the pattern of daily living and God's sustaining power in all of it... and I love that. In music when you sustain a note, you hold it out; you make it last longer... in life, when God sustains us, the sound - the chord - the melody of our lives is held - and I suspect that if we truly lived in a pattern of rest and activity, allowing the Lord to sustain us, that our lives would truly sing a love song to His heart that the world could not help but notice. It's what I want for my life, anyway. So be at rest, o my soul. Amen.