I really don’t like to drive, only short distances in the daytime with no rain. At some point the fourteen hour drive to Florida would negate all three of those specific details. Thus I asked to drive for the first leg in our trip down to the Sunshine State. We left at 4 pm on a Friday afternoon. My husband is the mad scientist presenter at our local library this summer, and that particular day he shot off 2-liter bottle rockets. We were almost loaded and ready to go when he got home.
I drove from Winchester to Chattanooga without stopping. I was shocked. Actually I was as pleased as punch. Giddy at my own little petty accomplishment.
During that first leg of the journey everyone in the car was especially quiet. Settling in for the long haul, hoping we would get further south than anticipated. We were adjusting to the tight space of the car, deciding how to bend and contort our bodies around book bags and coolers, tablets and I-Pads.
About an hour into the drive my mind had still not settled down—frothing and foaming like the oceans waves we would soon see.
There was this endless litany going on in my head (does that surprise anyone?).
I was praying. Which, of course, is a good thing.
But there was a franticness, a hurried frenzy and a stretch of desperation in the internal monologue. Yes, it was a monologue. I was doing ALL the talking. I’m quite sure God opened his mouth several times to get a word in edge-wise and there was just no room for his words to be inserted.
Oh, the prayers seemed right. They seemed like things I should ask for and seek. I asked for revelation and insight during this trip. I asked to be able to see him, to gain new understanding. My mind was in a whirl. I was looking for him in every bend of rock along the road, every license plate that sped by me. And I kept pleading. I kept saying I didn’t want the trip wasted. Didn’t want to squander a great opportunity to see God at work. Didn’t want to miss anything.
For miles and miles this continued. Unbeknownst to the others in the car. As each mile and town sped by it seemed my lust for a word from God increased.
I remember looking over at this wall of rock somewhere before Jellico Mountain. And I thought: how do I see God in this?
I must have taken an internal breath; I must have held my exhale for a second longer which created a small space.
In that small space before my tongue began to click again the Spirit spoke to me. Sterner and firmer than in a long while. The authority in that speaking shut down the inner monologue to silence. My words dissipated. Foam and froth died away.
Settle down, Tamera. Quit trying so hard. I’ll teach you when you’re ready.
The Spirit reprimanded me as if I were an over-eager child bent on getting to the playground slide first.
Chastened I almost gasped out loud.
I can’t even begin to explain the release His reprimand afforded me. I was unaware of how desperation had been coiled around my frame; it constricted me so tightly. I was so afraid and so concerned I was going to miss something. I wanted this to be a trip of revelation and of hearing from God.
I thought I would discover a burning bush on the side of the road growing and protruding from the rock face—flames arching and bending toward the grayed asphalt.
But if so, how could I stop and remove my sandals?
Most often holy ground does not come speeding down the highway.
It did, however, that day. God spoke to me in my little black car and released me from my own expectations. He released me from my self-imposed requirements. In the middle of my angst his stern reprimand was a treasure.
I couldn’t get my shoes off fast enough.