Six states. Four schools. Three days. Two worn out people. One thousand miles.
I have been blessed to have a mother/son adventure with both of my boys to investigate colleges. This summer, it was JD’s turn and he was honing in on schools that were “driving-distance”. We have always taken long road trips in our family so the only real decision for JD was in which direction of the wide perimeter to go first. After deliberating about a northern route which would prove to be more expensive, we set an eastern course that included the Cumberland Plateau, through Johnson City (couldn’t stop humming “Rock Me Mama”), along Watauga Lake, into the Blue Ridge Mountains, and back down through the Ohio Valley Region.
It was a scenic and majestic drive until it the pouring rain began, soon setting into a thick fog. The road itself was ascending and descending at dragging inclines and sharp curves as we made our way up near Gatlinburg, down through Bristol and up again near Mount Airy. The pounding of the heavy rain was a perfect soundtrack for a nap as it drowned out all other noise except for JD’s deep, even sleepy breathing. It was closing in on dinner time when I passed a flashing sign warning of the impending fog, suggesting for drivers to reduce their driving speed and turn on headlights.
Although I was a bit tired as well, there was no threat of sleep as my eyes clung to the shortened visible distance in front of my car where I could see only a few feet of the road’s white painted lines through the thick mist. Those lines, for a short time, were my only hint at demarcation through the switchbacks and spiral track of mountain roads, along with the dim glow of headlights from slow-moving semis and tractor trailers, which set the safe pace for our passage.
Put On Lights
Naturally, when we are driving and we can’t see whether due to darkness or fog, we want to put on the brightest lights we have. What happens when you put your brights on in fog, however, is that the opposite happens. We actually illuminate the density of the fog. We like to put on our brights on the road of life. We want to see ahead at all that is coming and think we have control over it all. When we amplify the density of what is before us in life, just like brights in the fog, we end up seeing too much. There are too many choices; too many roads and decisions to see clearly. If we keep our “low beams” on in fog, as in life, we give the future over to God, who calls us to trust Him. We summon our faith and ask His guidance, then we can proceed just enough to go to the next part of the journey.
Our “low-beam” in life is the bread of heaven, readily available to us in prayer and communion with Christ. He leads us where we ourselves cannot see. And we have to know that He loves us so perfectly that whatever that looks like, it will be exactly what we need. That is grace; and it comes from Christ when we need it and how we need it, only when we trust in Him.
As I read today’s gospel, I can identify with the crowd searching after Christ. They didn’t know where following Christ would lead them next. All they knew is that he had the answers to what they wanted most in life; even if they didn’t understand what that was. They had to exercise great trust and it paid off in the feeling of fulfilled in a way that they desperately desired.
Going up and down those mountains in the rain, I realized that I was almost blind to where the road would lead me next but whispering thanksgiving to God for His continued help in my life, and the way His grace always provides for me. I knew we would be safe because He is always good; He cannot want anything for us but what is exactly right. Sometimes when we have the least visibility in our lives we can exercise the greatest amount of faith, and that is where GRACE has the most room to present itself.
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
you are looking for me not because you saw signs
but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.
For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” (JN 6:26-39)