Here in the thick of ball season with two kids involved and games most every weeknight, we don't always know where we're supposed to be in the evenings.
(On a side note, I've got this great, low-tech wall calendar, though. Sandra Boynton Mom's Family Calendar. Columns for each family member. I recommend it for busy households. BUT it only works if you copy the ball schedules onto it correctly, which I don't always do.) ANYWAY...
Last night, my husband and I were making the drive to an away game in Ranburne, AL. My son and his teammate who needed a ride were in the backseat, and daughter and baby were in the middle seats. It was a noisy van. Music on the radio. Exuberant conversations going on, like, "If an elephant and a rhino got in a fight, who would win?" "The rhino! He could stab the elephant!" "Raise your hand if you like Mr. Pibb!" "Yessss!!! I LOVE Mr. Pibb!" And the baby chanting: "Bay-ball game! Bay-ball game! Buzzer!" Then the constant correction from his siblings: "No! Buzzers are at basketball games!"
Ooooo-kay. Let's just get there fast, please? I'm ready to get out now.
We'd been to Ranburne a few times before. Not somewhere we go every day. The drive over there is very pretty, especially around sunset, but most of it looks like this...
It looks like that for miles. We thought we kind of knew where we were going. We knew enough to think we could at least figure it out. Just a few turns here and there, and you can make it to the little town. But obviously, there's not a lot of landmarks. You just have to know the way.
"I think we need to turn right, here by these houses," said my husband.
"Oh yeah, this is it. Definitely. I remember," I said.
"No," said our daughter from the backseat. "I don't think we're supposed to go this way!"
"Yes we are," I said. "We know what we're doing."
Yeah, we thought we were so smart until we crossed into Georgia and got behind a chicken truck with no place to turn around. By that time, I was starting to feel the tightening of stress and irritation in my chest (A chicken truck? Really? Right now?!?), because the game was supposed to start in 10 minutes, and we had two little players in the backseat who needed us to get them there, and we had no idea where we were.
All we did know was that we were lost, stuck, going too slow in the wrong state, and on a deadline.
Have you ever felt that way? Lost and stuck - not understanding where you are, how you got there, or how you'll get back?
It's the worst feeling in the world. I've hated it ever since I was little. "Are we lost, daddy?" I'd ask in the car whenever we found ourselves off the beaten path. "Yes, Jennifer, we're lost," he'd answer me, honestly. "Lost?!? OH NOOO!" I'd wail. Then mom and dad would reassure me that we would get back to the main road, eventually.
I've felt lost in more serious ways, too. I've crossed over lines into the lostness of anxiety and despair before, and those places stink much worse than chicken trucks. They trick you into thinking that the path you need, the path you used to walk on, the path you long for, won't ever be found again. That you don't have any hope of getting out from behind the lumbering, stinking truck that's obstructing your view of the road ahead and impeding your life. An obstruction so large that you cannot see anything else around you - no signs, no landmarks, no help.
But you know what? I found that was a complete lie. We have a Shepherd who doesn't let us stay lost. Jesus said He would leave 99 sheep to go find the one who got away, the one in need, the one who is stuck on his back. Ninety-nine! You know who those 99 are? The "everybody else's" in your life. Everybody else seems happy. Everybody else has it together. Everybody else is pinning glorious crafts and posting perfection on Pinterest. Every other sheep is grazing in the field, and they seem to be happy, settled, and full.
But here I am, you think, I'm the one that's different, way out here on a ledge, in a difficult situation that the "everybody else's" could not possibly understand.
There's One who does. His staff is long enough to reach and to deliver. Isaiah 59:1 says, "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear."
My husband was feeling the stress, too, in our roaming and lostness yesterday - because I heard him mutter one of those, "God please help us find this place," prayers under his breath.
Shortly thereafter, a gorgeous gas station loomed before us. I implored him to stop and ask directions, and I think we were about to get into the husband/wife conflict borne from time immemorial - until we noticed the "Alabama the Beautiful" state sign just to our left - and the Ranburne city limit sign just past it.
The swagger-wagon minivan came screeching into the Ranburne sports complex on two wheels, Farris-style. The little players arrived at their game with two minutes to spare.
We feel lost, but we get found.
There's always a way back.