Monday, February 3, 2014

Child-like faith: Trusting HIM through all things scary

Last Tuesday morning, January 28, 2014, was once again a delight at our PANCAKES & PRAISE/Totally Devoted gathering @ IHOP in Canton Marketplace. I had just finished sharing a devotion with the ladies when a light dusting of snow began to fall. Since we meet in the IHOP sunroom we had huge windows all around us giving us a wonderful view of the outdoors. We were sharing prayer requests when our server came in and told us a water main broke and there was no running water. Uh-oh.
It wasn't totally shocking since the temperatures were below freezing for the past few days...and the day before it was 5 degrees outside! It was probably frozen pipes. We looked at the snow and commented how beautiful it was dusting the grass. We all were aware of the weather forecast of a light dusting. Then one lady noticed it was beginning to stick to the pavement. Hmmmm. What? How could it happen so fast?
Hmmm. The snowfall became heavier and we decided to leave. As we passed the checkout counter they told us IHOP was sending employees with school-age children home at noon so they could pick up their children-- Cherokee County Schools were closing! Hmmmm.
Snow began to fall a little more vigorously but I already decided I'd run up to Wal-Mart at the next exit on I-575 to pick up things on my shopping list. It didn't seem to be threatening weather at all. (My big mistake was that I didn't think about this fact: the temperatures leading up to and including Tuesday were in dipping into single digits! The ground was already frozen.) I planned to head home immediately my errand run to Wal-Mart.
Coming outdoors from my shopping spree  -- at Wal-Mart? -- the pavement was already a little slippery. Wh-a-a-at? Snow was sticking to my car. Hmmmm.
Wal-Mart Canton
The thought came to me to slip over to Chick-fil-A next to Wal-mart and get some takeout food and get home! Then I slowly pulled out of the parking lot and when I reached the intersection at Hwy 5 at the Wal-Mart entrance, there was a massive traffic jam. I thought to myself, "Oh no, there must be a car accident because of all this snow falling and the ice forming!" I got through the traffic light and joined the lines of car crawling bumper to bumper. I was thinking, "Wow, it looks the car wreck must be southbound on I-575 because even the exit ramp is jammed." I decided to slowly make my way along Riverstone Parkway and work my way south--an alternate route. I came to the intersection at Hwy. 140 & Riverstone. A lot of other drivers obviously had the same thought! I still didn't know what was happening. Cars were accumulating as heavily as the falling snow! 
 At least I could eat while I tried to make my way home. Yes, that's the cover of my Chick-fil-A spicy chicken wrap on my dashboard. I bought a lemonade, too. Just sayin'.

I turned left onto 140 to drive through Historic Downtown Canton. Well that was brilliant...the bridge was already very slick. And no wonder there weren't many cars going that direction! I was going to shortly have to drive up a very steep hill! Duh!
The bridge with few cars. Uh-huh. A very steep hill is around the bend!
I crept along the bridge and when I approached the bottom of the hill there was clearly no turning back! I was  frightened. I didn't know how to get out of this mess. I couldn't go up the hill. I couldn't go back down. I couldn't leave my car on the slope. Prayers went up to my God and His blessings were sent down. I called my husband and he said he'd come to help. I knew then that it would be a dangerous--even treacherous thing for him to get out in this icy nightmare. I asked him to please stay home and pray and later he told me he called others to pray, too.
The driver ahead of me on the hill got stuck half-way up the slope. I couldn't do anything but stop. And then I prayed some more. Cars were coming up behind us. "Lord, help me!" I cried. The stuck driver  ahead of me eventually crawled up the hill but now I didn't have any traction to go again. All of a sudden a couple in an older model pickup truck roared up the hill and the woman yelled to me out of her window, "Do you want us to pull you up the hill?" 
"Yes! Yes! Yes! Please! Thank you! God bless you! God bless you! " I yelled back to her.
In a moment the truck roared up the hill and then backed down again within inches of my front bumper. He hopped out pulled a long chain out of the back of his truck and attached it to my car. "Put your car in drive and hold on!" So I did. I held onto God in prayer and was instantly pulled straight up the steep hill. Whoa. Only God. My Deliverer used that couple to rescue me. And they didn't go back to help anyone else. They said they lived nearby and were on their way home.
God was teaching me. God was speaking to me. His promises are true.
My adventure at Wal-Mart started about noon. Two hours later I finally drove through downtown Canton to encounter the worst traffic jam I've ever been involved in.

My black car is in the bottom right corner of this photo. Heading east from Historic Downtown Canton toward I-575. Traffic jammed up.
 Then I sat for a few hours there creeping my way -- bumper to bumper -- to I-575. Cars, pickup trucks, semi-tractor trailers and school buses were all choking the I-575 ramps trying to join all of us on Hwy 20 heading east. It was a mess. Snow still falling. Temperature seemed to stay at 27 degrees most of the day.
I'm still working toward I-575, moving one car length at a time. Stopping. Then moving two car lengths. Stopping, etc.
In all this uncontrollable mess I realized: my car was full of gas, my cell phone was fully charged,  my car heater worked and my CD player was rockin' with Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. I was in a new kind of storm and God wanted me to trust Him. It's important at this point to share this: I told the girls in our gathering @ IHOP a few hours earlier that I had been praying for  and desiring child-like faith -- which is mature faith, by the way. We are truly free to live fully when we have child-like faith. God was answering my prayer by putting me in a 9-hour, non-stop storm...way beyond my control. I was either going to grow into child-like faith or totally freak out. My choice.

While waiting to approach and cross over the frozen I-575 overpass, I had a clear view of stalled and stuck vehicles on the southbound lanes and the northbound exit ramps to exit 19.
Early afternoon, maybe about 3 or 3:30 pm I reached Canton Marketplace! Some people got out of their cars and went shopping and came back to their cars with bags and food! Why not, the cars weren't moving.
Yes, that's Taco Mac, the largest building. Snow kept falling...
About 4 or 4:30 pm  I finally passed Canton Marketplace. As I waited to give my tires another roll or two, I began to journal on my FB page. That's what photo journalists do. They tell stories and take pictures. It's just comes naturally. I began to journal events on my FB page. Here are some entries:
"I've been on Hwy. 20 coming out of downtown Canton since 1:30. I'm almost to Scott Rd. Apparently there have been several semi-trailer trucks covering the road ahead of me. I was told by a passerby they've cleared one lane and are letting the Hwy 20 eastbound and westbound take turns getting past the overturned and/or stalled car at a time. There are volunteer Snow Heroes out in this frigid weather helping to push cars up the hill and around the first collision. I'm waiting for my turn...and so are hundreds of drivers behind me heading east. This verse came to my head: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and HE will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-7. God put that in my head and heart to encourage me. It worked.
When the passerby told me there were several jack-knifed tractor trailers it was still daylight. It was very dark after passing Canton Marketplace. When I approached Scott Rd., I actually did have to be guided through a narrow icy path by Snow Heroes with flashlights.
(NOTE: Snow Heroes (as I call them) are volunteers who showed up and helped the rest of us be safe. God sent them to help all of us! Some of the Snow Heroes were on 4-wheelers, some drove 4-wheel drive trucks and some were on foot -- rescuing people all along Hwy. 20! They helped when it was daylight and when darkness fell they were still there.)
The path I had to take at the Scott Rd. intersection was to pass by not one, not two, not three, but at least 15 tractor trailers on both sides of the road and some were half-way in the road! Probably 15- 20 cars were also scattered all over that intersection and area. It looked like the set of a horror movie. I wanted to badly to take a picture but I had to keep moving slowly through the narrow, treacherous passage. I could easily have reached out and touched the trucks as I slowly slid by. I think I held my breath through that area. I don't know the exact number -- too tense to look away from the road. I kept thinking of the passage in the Bible where Peter was able to walk on the water when he kept His eyes focused on Jesus and His voice. I kept praying, "Lord, help me focus on the path on the road and not on those scary lights, these huge trucks, the frigid temperatures and the dark, dark night. Lord, help me only look to you." It worked. It was following Scripture!
When our narrow line of cars made it through we eventually came upon Union Hill Rd. More Snow Heroes warned us about going as slowly as possible and sticking close the railing so we don't slide into the tractor trailers there! Yes, more trucks! I prayed again: "Oh, no! Lord, help me! Help my tires be in the exact places on the road so I don't slip into a valley or into another vehicle!"
I'm approaching Union Hill Rd. @ Hwy 20 traveling east. The road was as slick as an ice skating rink. The winding white lights in the distance are the miles of cars waiting their turn to pass by these trucks. We had to pass by one car at a time -- one direction at a time. Those very bright white lights in the middle of the road next to the 10-wheeler is a Snow Hero's truck. We had to squeeze by and try not to hit anything! :)
The roads became so dangerously slick when it got dark that I had to drive 5 MPH from the horrific Scott Rd. intersection to the Union Hill Rd. intersection... and then on to East Cherokee Dr., still driving 5 MPH.
Nine hours after leaving Wal-Mart I drove my car into our garage at 9:10 pm on Tuesday night. I give God all the glory and praise for HIS lovingkindness to me. This experience really shook me up. It shook me to my core. It's a reminder to me, that I'm not in control of anything. He gave me what I prayed for...getting closer to having child-like faith. He showed me to put my trust in Him...through the storms, through the dark, through all things scary and He will be with me and take care of me.
No, I'm not in control of anything. But My Father is.

Joyfully one of HIS kids,