Ever felt like you were at the end of the road with nowhere to go?
Life can be that way at times-- it throws you a curve and you struggle along, peddling as best as you can, but your "legs get tired." It's only normal to wish you could see the end of the road where you'll rest a bit before heading back the direction you came from!
We also traveled long distances with those three little ones just to see their grandparents. While in Kentucky, we had to go south 10 hours to see Papaw and Mamaw Potter, or, if we were heading west to see Grandpa and Grandma Keltie, it was also a 10 hour trip! I always packed lots of goodies to hand out along those journeys -- a new book or two for each of the children, some dried fruits and nuts for snacks, a new CD of songs, etc. Other times, I'd sit in the back with them and play board games while the scenery zipped by outside. I'd also packed favorite read-aloud books and ... thank you whoever invented earphones (!) ... story tapes they could listen to while their Daddy and I chatted up front.
We bought our travel van especially for a trip out West, and I remember their excitement during the planning stages. We mapped our trip to see the Cowboy National Museum (Oklahoma), Crater National Park (Arkansas) Grand Canyon (Arizona), Sequoia National Park, Redwood Forest and the western coast scenery along Highway 10 (California). Then there was Old Faithful ( ), Mt. Rushmore, the Corn Palace (yes, outer wall murals made from kernels of corn!) and the HUGE Kennicott Copper Mine and the Dinosaur National Park in Utah.
That van put in a lot of miles, and we made a lot of good memories. The only thing about traveling that seemed monotonous was turning back east and heading home. You know, the sing-song voice of "Are we almost there yet?" ;-) But I wouldn't take a million dollars for those experiences and the time we spent with our children. It was not just vacation -- we were soaking up some amazing life-long memories and fascinating facts for the rest of our lives. But yes, the home stretch was a good thing after 21 days of travel - even if it would take awhile to get back in the swing of things.
Fast forward to an "unpleasant journey" I experienced in the spring of 2014. One morning when I started to get up, I could not stand without crying out in pain. Electric-like shocks raced down my lower back and were shooting into my left leg. After 15-20 minutes, the pain would lessen, It was odd that it only occurred when I had been sitting or lying down - something that made the doctors scratch their heads. They'd never had a sciatica case quite like mine before, and they weren't sure it was sciatica, but that's what they tentatively labeled it. One doctor gave me a shot in the lower back to block pain, but it didn't work. Day after day the pain was present, and I was unable to function as usual. That problem lingered for 3 months -- something doctors, therapists, our faithful chiropractor and no one else could ever figure out nor solve.
I was exhausted by traveling that road and wanted to get back "home," to life as I used to know it. Oh, to be mobile and pain free again ... especially since our son was graduating with his MBA in June and we had planned to make the 12-hour trip. As things stood then, I didn't see how I could go at all, and that broke my heart.
After on particularly-bad day, I was washing a few dishes at the sink when tears began to fall into the dishwater. Basically, I gave up all hope of recovery and cried out to the Lord in desperation that day. "Father, You are the Great Physician, and You know exactly what is going on. If You are willing to heal me, You can, but I don't deserve Your favor, nor do I make any demands. If you choose not to heal me, I'm going to need a lot of grace to get through this pain in the days to come. I so wanted to go see Jason graduate, Father! Give me grace. It's in Your hands, and I surrender it to you."
Up to that time I had been sleeping sitting up in a recliner for 8-10 weeks due to the pain of getting out of bed. That evening, after a good cry and the exhaustion that accompanied it, I made a decision. I wanted to sleep in a real bed ... no matter what it might cost me in pain the next morning. So I went to bed, went to sleep and slept all night. The next morning, I slowly stretched my left leg and tentatively moved my body toward the edge of the bed. So far, so good. I "tested the waters" by putting one foot on the floor and then the other. And then stood up and - for the first time in months - without pain!! All I can say is, the Lord graciously healed me, and the doctors were dumbfounded by it all. Since then, I have done well and have never experienced that particular problem again.
Sometimes journeys are pleasant, like our vacation out West or that long-awaited trip to see family and friends. At times, our journeys may be painful -- the loss of a loved one, the agony of a lingering illness or an unexpected injury. There are also painful journeys of stress, financial problems, natural disasters and more!
While the painful journeys are ones we'd rather not take, most of us will find ourselves along those roads at one time or another. One thing we must remember, however: There is an end to the journey at some point, and we will find peace and relief in the end. During the meantime, the Lord promises to be with His children every step of the way. Sometimes He may hold our hand and at other times carry us on His shoulders, but one thing is certain ...
He will never, ever leave us nor forsake us.