I get the itch to travel a lot. I don’t usually end up going to particularly exciting places (this summer being a pretty notable exception) because for the most part I am traveling to places I’ve already been to see family and friends, but I’m not home for too many weeks before I feel the familiar drive to plan the next one.
Spring break almost always ends up being a time that I’m somewhere else in the country, and this year was no exception. Less than a month before, I had decided that I could afford to go on a trip and wanted to see friends and family in the PNW. It was, as they often are, a bit of a whirlwind trip, and before I knew it I was packing up to drive home again.
Some pretty ridiculous ideas come to me while I am in the car, alone, for 13 hours. I had the brilliant idea to figure out just how empty my gas tank needed to get before the light would come on in my car, by getting dangerously low on gas near a major city with plenty of options for refueling. Never mind that my AAA had lapsed, and I was 4 hours from home at 11pm at night.
As you can imagine, the situation got pretty dicey, made worse by the fact that despite my best plans, exits and gas stations ended up being closed and I had to travel an extra 45 miles to get to the next one, even though I only had about 20 miles worth of gas left at the most.
If you could have been a fly on the wall of that car – you’d have heard the extent to which my Pentecostal upbringing came out during that stretch of time. I was praying in tongues, praying for anyone and everyone that popped into my mind, speaking provision over the mechanisms of my engine, feeling comforted and confident that I’d felt like God said he would get me to where I needed to go, and feeling increasingly stressed out as I kept cresting hills only to discover that I wasn’t actually to the next set of gas stations yet.
I kept hearing, “Just trust me.” If you know me and a little bit of where my life has been these past few years, that’s been a common theme and I have been really bad about sitting in it. I trust God and then I look at the odds, and I panic. And I try to take back control and spin myself into the dirt, coming to rest before realizing that I just have to trust God after all. Wash, rinse and repeat. So, back to my self-made gas shortage: I’m cresting the hill that has several gas stations, and I falter. I remember talking to God and asking if I was supposed to keep driving on faith. If this was even bigger than the fact that I should have been out of gas right then and that I needed to drive by this set of stations.
The “Hannah, really?” was practically audible, as my car chose the end of that sentence to turn itself off and begin to decelerate. I decelerated up to and through the off ramp and seeing that the only gas stations were way too far away for my car to reach, shifted into Neutral. Praying like mad to the Waymaker, a station pops up to my left, seemingly out of nowhere. My car goes up a bit of a hill as it rounds the corner, even though it had come to a stop at the bottom of the off ramp, I manage to pull into the station and my car gets perfectly lined up with the gas pump before finally coming to a stop.
I am shaking and laughing and crying as I get out to pump my gas. I didn’t even think to be worried that my car wouldn’t start (it did on the first try) or anything beyond the fact that the Lord reminded me, yet again, that He is faithful. Even when I am foolish and doubt it all, or try to go too far late at night without enough gas. When He promises to come to my rescue, when He promises to get me to the next gas station, when He speaks things over me that seem impossible – He is faithful to the end.
I tell this story to the friend I went to the PNW to visit, after I get home, and she looks at me and hits me with “Hannah, that sounds like a really eerily accurate description of how your life has been.” In my personal life, in my professional life, in my financial life – all of it has spent several years feeling like one really long 45 mile stretch to the nearest gas station. Knowing that God promised some things that seemed overwhelmingly wonderful and consistently out of sight. Knowing that I was called out of some boats that were really safe and secure. Knowing I had to let go of things that seemed like they could have been good enough long, long before any fulfillment of crazy Jesus promises ever came.
I certainly don’t understand why the timing of things works out the way that it does, but I am reminded, time and time again, that He is faithful to the end. For the career that felt like it would never come to fruition, for the relationships that appeared would always be broken, for the hope that seemed to be on the verge of running out, for the healing that felt like it would never come, He is faithful. Even when I forget. Even when I don’t see how I can bear the waiting even a single second longer. Even when I’m fighting every instinct that is urging me to protect myself and have a list of back up plans ready. Even when everything about what was promised seems impossible and beyond all reason. Even then, He is faithful.