Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: MAP (01/31/19)
TITLE: Be Strong, Courageous and Thankful
By Barbara Lynn Culler
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Snow was falling that early morning and at least three inches of the white stuff frosted the ground. I turned on the heater, fastened the seatbelt, then prayed: Dear God, you know I’ve never driven in snow before, please help me get there!
The eerie quietness of the snowy predawn added to my emotional state as I set out for the airfield. Heart thumping in my belly, and hands tightly gripping the steering wheel, I cautiously followed in the tire tracks of those who had gone on before me.
Entering the barren, snow covered fields leading to the flight terminals, I scanned the shadowy horizon, searching for signage leading to the car rental area. All I could see was darkness and tiny balls of snow dancing through the beam of my headlights. Due to having the heater on, my windows had fogged over, partially obstructing the view, so I relied on the GPS to reach the correct destination.
“In 500 feet, turn left,” the female voice said. Looking in disbelief at the directions on the screen, I questioned the disembodied voice:
“Are you sure?”
“In 100 feet, turn left.”
“Turn left.” Okay already.
Making the turn, I immediately sensed that this was not the way I should have gone. Dear God, please help! I continued traveling the desolate road, grateful that I had allotted plenty of time before my scheduled flight. Suddenly, amber lights flickered behind me and I felt a sense of relief, until I realized that the vehicle was a snow plow! Where’d he come from? Now what do I do?
“In 200 feet, turn right.”
“Why?" I shouted at the blue screen. “There’s nothing there!” The road depicted on the small black box seemed to be nothing but empty land, yet I reluctantly followed directions. The snow plow continued straight, and I sighed in relief.
Driving with the now opaque window partly down, I noticed signs of civilization - several parked aircraft. I’d ended up in the cargo area behind the terminals.
“In three feet turn right.” Yanking the annoying voice off life support, I told her - not so politely - to be quiet.
Spotting a worker loading containers, I sheepishly asked for help, and he directed me to the correct route. Finally locating the buildings, I returned the rental car and entered the warm terminal. After completing the security check in, I still had time to decompress before my flight. Thank you, God!
I should have known not to rely on cyber maps. That trip to the airport was not the first time I had gotten lost due to inaccurate information. For instance, one day I needed to do a site check for work, so printed out the directions from an online map. What should have been an easy trip became a harrowing experience.
My supervisor traveled with me that afternoon; we knew the area was up a mountain, but trusted our written instructions. Instead of finding the desired street, we were led onto steep, narrow dirt roads that eventually ended at a trio of trees. A phone call resulted in clearer directions; we had missed a street that had not been on the map. A few minutes later, we safely reached our destination.
Whether digital, verbal or in print, maps are made by humans, and don’t account for road closures, new buildings, or other factors. I no longer rely on their directions, but continue to set aside plenty of time when driving to new places, because I know that things do go wrong!
Like the pathway on the snowy street that had been forged by vehicles ahead of me, I know that God will always be with me, even when things go off course. He was present that dark, snowy morning, as well as the sunny afternoon on the mountain. Unlike the fallible GPS, God will continually be a reliable and constant guide for my life. For that, I’ll always be thankful.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV
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