Thanksgiving 2005

(photo - Galena countryside)

Over the river and through the woods...

I was being a real pain, interrupting the regular TV viewing (assorted sporting events and reality shows) to see if I could find out what the weather was going to be like for our 8 hour drive from my sister’s back home to Illinois.

Marcela, Pepe and I had come up to Minnesota to spend Thanksgiving with my side of the family. The bunch of us - Dad and 6 of the 7 of us kids and our kids - had gathered at my sister's, and we had quite a feast...

(photo - Thamksgiving feast)

But now it was Saturday, a marathon game of Monopoly was still to be played way into the night, and I was worried about the weather. Turns out I had good reason - a blizzard was blowing in from the Rockies. It ended up closing down miles of I80 and stranding hapless travelers at truck stops, forcing others to spend a day or two sleeping on hard wooden church pews. I knew we should have left that morning!

But we were still on the outer edges of all of that, warm fronts and cold fronts banging into each other, and it looked like we just might be able to squeak through without hitting any really nasty stuff. Still I was worried.


I have come to realize that lately I spend most of my time either worried, anxious or afraid. Well, throw in a little guilt in on top of that. I guess until I had gotten sick, life just sort of sailed along. Sure, there were problems, but they never seemed so big or so bad that a little time and effort couldn't overcome them.

And then - BAM!

Along comes this little life-threatening cancer and I was totally knocked off my feet. All of a sudden it seemed we were at the mercy of forces absolutely and completely beyond our control, and being sick was only part of it - and sometimes not even the worst part. With the loss of half our income, bills weren’t getting paid. The power was shut off more than once... and the gas... and the water. I was laid up in bed just when our kids were entering their teenage years. Those would be their teenage rebellious years. I couldn’t be the strong, guiding force I needed to be and things just sort of slipped into chaos. Many nights I have gone to bed with a wrenching ache in my gut, sure we had lost a child to the corrupting forces of the world.

Our whole life seemed to come unglued. Everything began to fall apart, both literally and figuratively.

I guess in a way, it was like being in an earthquake. Not that I have ever been in one, but I can imagine the ground starts moving beneath you, and you come to realize that there are forces working against you that are so far beyond your control there is nothing to do but hold on. You get tossed and turned and just hope and pray you land on your feet.

It’s scary.

And that’s how life has felt. That underlying, unquestioned sense of security I once felt is gone. Well, it’s one of those deals where you were never anxious because you didn’t know you should BE anxious. It’s not until you get blind-sided once that you start finding yourself looking back over your shoulder.

So now, the prospect of a long drive in bad weather made me anxious.

But I knew it shouldn’t be that way.

God loves me. He is always with me. What is there to be afraid of? So I thought on that a bit (my daughter accuses me of thinking too much. “Dad, you’re always thinking about something!”). It obviously can’t mean that nothing bad will ever happen. Bad stuff happens all the time. It’s not like God is going to put some sort of bubble around me and protect me from every little trouble. That can’t be it.

God’s people have had all sorts of trouble. Joseph was thrown in a well, sold into slavery and slammed into prison. He didn’t spend his whole life sipping lemonade by the pool.

Maybe it is that God will be with me THROUGH the troubles. Even more, that he is USING the troubles to accomplish some greater good thing, maybe in me, maybe for someone else, that I can't see.

But all of that I can’t really know. But I can know one thing for certain. God really does love me, with a love I can’t even begin to fully comprehend. And no matter how bad things may seem, in the end I will be standing.... I will be standing firmly on a rock. I will be safe, I will be secure - I will know the fullness of God’s joy.

In the end.

It’s the stuff in between that messes me up.

So I watched the Weather Channel, saw the little cloud thingies with the cartoon snow and rain coming down, the satellite photos of colliding fronts all along the path our trip would take. And I told myself...

“If I am feeling anxious and afraid, it is because I have forgotten how much God loves me.”

Turns out all we had to deal with was a little rain, a little fog here and there. Still, I was so glad to make it safely home.... but that was mostly because I let my teenaged daughter drive half the way - and she still only has her permit!

(photo - crummy driving conditions)


Psalm 27 - click here

2005 Paul Dallgas-Frey

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