Do you like road trips? Part of the intrigue is the trip itself, but usually the greatest excitement lies in the destination. Perhaps it's to see a new grandchild, a military spouse, a distant friend or to go on a long dreamed of perfect vacation.
About a year ago I began a long trip. Among the things I wanted with me were a map, flashlight and phone. Throughout my trip there were times when the roads were well marked, the shoulder was solid and wide and traffic moved smoothly.
At times, however, the road became narrow and traffic squeezed into one lane. I crawled for what seemed like an eternity until it widened again. Sometimes there were hills and hairpin curves and occasionally terrible ruts that threatened to destroy my car. Sometimes the road became a trail and I feared that I might lose my way. Other times the road took me to the peak of a mountain, and while the scenery was exquisite, it appeared that the road ahead would drop into nothingness. Sometimes there were dropoffs on both sides of the road causing me to grip the wheel more tightly. Sometimes the car broke down and plans changed while it was repaired.
The weather also varied. Many days I enjoyed sunny skies and the miles melted away behind me. There were days when storms battered my car with rain, wind and driving ice and snow. Sometimes it was so slippery that I skated tensely down the road and sometimes I feared I would get lost when fog hid the road signs and landmarks. During those days weariness made it hard to stay alert and I wished I could stop for a while.
That was how the trip through 2012 was for me and I'm sure your road through 2012 had its easy and hard places as well. The new year, which just began, will have its perfect days but we all know that there will be stormy days full of troubles, some anticipated and some shocking in their suddenness. How can we prepare for that?
Just as the map and flashlight can help us find our way, our Bible can be our map and flashlight on our journey through the next year. Psalm 119: 105 tells us "Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." Just as a phone can keep us in contact with loved ones, prayer can be our most helpful connection as we seek guidance and give praises to God who travels with us if we ask.
"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise." James 5:13
As we travel through 2013 let's not focus on possible bad times but instead focus on God and our ultimate destination, heaven. We are not alone on this earthly journey. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10. He is just a prayer away. "For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:13.
Helen McCormack, of Minot, writes the Reflections column every six weeks. She and her husband, David, serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators.