I must say, we had quite a ride getting to my husband’s parents’ home last night. We were already excited to spend time with our out-of-state family, but the four-and-a-half hour drive turned out to be a nail-biter in more ways than one.
First, we ended up leaving just as a torrential rainstorm began, which resembled more a typhoon than anything. Then, as we headed south, more rain, and at one point we narrowly dodged hydroplaning when we hit a puddle that looked to be two feet deep. Every so often, we would pass a car that had landed in the ditch, or that had had a fender bender with the retaining wall and think, “This could be us up around the next corner.”
Thankfully, I wasn’t the one driving. The last thing any of the poor souls stuck in rainy, Thanksgiving Day traffic need is a sleep-deprived woman, bordering on delirious actually, from working the overnight shift, behind the wheel of the car on the freeway next to them. Especially one who is close to foaming at the mouth after everyone, including three kids and a husband, has finally managed to get crammed, along with all of the luggage, into a small double cab truck which has seemingly morphed into a smart car with no leg room.
I began praying for God to please get us to our destination safely through the storms and in one piece (and without killing one another), and to help me to snap out of the crabby mood I was in. It is, after all, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. I just wasn’t feeling it at the moment. How I wish at those times that there were some kind of divine teleportation mechanism to lift us up and carry us out of the storms, the long lines of traffic, etc.
In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches the disciples (and us) how to pray. He says:
“In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (NKJV)”
What does deliverance from temptation and the evil one look like (and yes, I think holiday traffic is the work of the evil one!)? When I think of being delivered from something, I think of God lowering down a rope or a safety net and rescuing me right then and there. Or like the way that He helped Moses to part the Red Sea to deliver the Israelites out of the hands of the Egyptians in Exodus.
But sometimes I fail to see that deliverance might not be what I think. Deliverance might mean protection. I think sometimes our plans go awry because God might be keeping us from harm.
And then, sometimes, I think deliverance means walking with us through whatever we are going through, and helping us to come out safely the other side. I’ve heard a saying that sometimes the only way out is through, and I believe that. Even if whatever it is means emerging from this side of life into Heaven on the other side, God will get us through it, and He will walk with us all the way.
The Apostle Paul had some kind of “thorn in the side”. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what it was. Perhaps a physical illness or disability, perhaps anxiety or depression, or some kind of temptation that he struggled with. No one can really be sure. Whatever it was, it was troubling enough to Paul that He asked the Lord to remove it three times.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NKJV): “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'”
The Lord was telling him that He was choosing not to remove Paul’s thorn in the flesh, as He would be able to use Paul’s weakness to demonstrate His strength. In other words, He was going to be able to take something that Satan was using to bother Paul (v.7) and use it as part of Paul’s ministry for His glory.
So then, we can be encouraged when the trials and storms come, and know that though God has different ways of delivering us from storms, He promises to be with us every step of the way.
Our Thanksgiving story has a happy ending. We arrived safely in time to have Thanksgiving dinner with most of the relatives. A good time was had by all of us. A few had left, but we have the rest of the weekend to be able to catch up and visit with everyone before we head back home Sunday. The Lord reminded me of all that I have to be thankful for – most especially, His grace that is sufficient for my every need.
“Father, thank You for all that You are, and for You grace that sustains me daily. Please forgive me for the times when I forget to be grateful, and help me to give thanks in all circumstances, for You are able, and You are mighty to deliver us from anything the evil one tries to throw our way. I’m grateful for family, fellowship and that we get to spend this time together for the holiday weekend. Please be with those reading this and bless their homes and their families, Lord, and give them safe travels. May we all draw closer to You today and always. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”