“I will not show you what is on the road ahead, but I will thoroughly equip you for the journey.” – from Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling”
Another Monday and the start of my 5th week in Sarah Young’s devotional book. I had heard of it before but never read it – until a friend gave it to me for Christmas. What a gift! I’ve loved starting each day with her short paraphrases of scriptures related to peace and comfort. It’s a source of encouragement each morning with my 5 am coffee.
As much as we’d all like to know what’s ahead in life, with a nicely marked roadmap (Pothole here! Detour here! Watch for nails in the road!) I know that this just isn’t possible (sigh). But I have seen time and again in myself and others that we really are equipped for life’s journey. God has given each of us a metaphorical backpack/toolbox that we carry with us. The equipment we pull out when we need it is different for each person — but it’s there! Looking back, how many times in your life have you climbed metaphorical mountains, survived pain, grief, disease or trauma, or conquered “impossible” challenges? We are better equipped than we often know; but it takes a challenging circumstance to force us to dig deep in ourselves for just the right tools to fight whatever battles we’re fighting.
It’s been a week of detours. I had hoped to write about my work volunteering with our local Homeless Coalition’s “point in time” count – an annual event that takes a snapshot of the numbers of people in our community who are experiencing homelessness on one particular day. On the last Wednesday in January, volunteers visit shelters and homeless camps to see how many people are living in shelters or on the street, and gather information about the whys and hows of why they’re there. We are not a big city, so our homeless numbers are not huge, but they’re still significant, and I had hoped to share some stories of these struggling people.
But – a detour happened. I didn’t get to help with the count this year, because that same morning, E and I rushed out of town because his sister suffered a brain aneurysm and was in critical condition. She is the mother of three young boys, and a devoted wife, friend, sister and school volunteer (in addition to working full time).
These times of crisis force us to dig deep – and to realize that once we pick ourselves up, that tool box is there and we are equipped for this journey. For my sister and brother in law, now on a serious detour into long, critical, scary time, friends and family were their first line of strength: a church & school community gathered around them; good friends sat at the hospital to cry and hug and pray (and cook and drive and do laundry); and strong family relationships set a firm foundation. Matt, now in the role of caretaker and decision maker, is keeping the grieving family moving forward. Elizabeth, in a fight for her health and her future, is at the same time resting and fighting. They are not used to these roles, and didn’t choose them, but they are pulling new tools from the box – and they are equipped. Through our faith, we find hope and strengths we didn’t know we had. “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).
I heard another quote last week from a friend who was talking about the French philosopher Albert Camus (yes, these are the conversations I have on a random Monday). It resonated with me… thinking in the context of Sarah Young’s words. Our faith and our God equip us for the journey, but we don’t often find it until we’re in a cold, hard season:
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
I have seen that so many times in people – finding strength they didn’t know they had; accomplishing things that seemed unreachable.
I’m ready for another week where I’ll try to embrace the detours, confident I am well equipped for whatever comes my way.