I’m not sure what started me thinking about childhood trips and how they can affect later events. Perhaps I was thinking about pork chops, or more seriously, terrible car accidents or the lack of cell phones sixty years ago.But our journey as Christians is somewhat like a journey I made more than sixty years ago. We moved several times between California and Missouri. And our father and mother’s care and tenacity was to me like my later walk with Christ. His care and stubborn love in the midst of my own childishness and fears has never ceased.
There are three events that mark one particular trip. One childish, and two terrifying. The first—I hated meat—except for fried chicken and fried pork chops. We went the southern route and in Southern California I still remember sitting with my family by the side of the road, crying, because I didn’t want to eat my hamburger, I wanted a pork chop instead.One serious part. We traveled through the Mojave Desert and ran out of water. It was hot, there was no air-conditioning then. As little girls we rode in our cotton slips to stay cool. That was our mother’s idea as well as sucking on the ice that was left in the bottom of the cooler. And then the car started losing water because there was a crack in the radiator. We pulled into a rare filling station to find they had no water, only soda pop. Our only help came when a car pulled up beside us and they had abundant water to drink and to put into the car.
The second serious part. At some point our car was fixed, I don’t remember the details after all of the years I just remember that we kept moving east. We traveled through New Mexico. It was there, in the rain, that we came upon a horrible accident.
On that busy highway few lacked any compassion, all were in a hurry. My father stopped; he had worked as a trucker a great deal of his life and was used to stopping to help. Truckers were once known as Knights of the road.A woman was amazingly walking down the side of the road; her head was split open and one eye was hanging out. She was quickly put into our car, my father’s large red handkerchief wrapped around her head—the eye positioned in place. My mother gave her the only pain pills we had, aspirin. We then drove forty miles to the nearest hospital. At first the hospital staff did not take her seriously until they unwrapped her head.
I have often wondered what happened to her. Did she recover her sight in that one eye? How long did it take the police and ambulances to get back to the accident? Did any other car stop and help?We went on our way without any other events. Ahead of us was Grandma and Grandpa and their farm. We would purchase a farm within walking distance of them. There would be cousins, family gatherings and happiness for a little while which there generally is in all of our lives but I am writing all of this thinking of Pastor Dave’s sermon this morning on Psalm 23. “I shall not want” the psalmist insists. “He restores my soul.” “I fear no evil, for you are with me.” And truly the Lord is.
His care is like a mother’s care—his strength in the midst of pain and panic like a Father’s. Always the Lord is with his people guiding, binding up wounds, waiting with patience for us to lean into his will even when it is unwanted. Ahead is the fulfillment of his promises and his own glorious self.