September 19, 2020

Peaks, Passes, and Peace

I sometimes feel as though my life is filled with mountains. OK, so I lived in Vermont and was surrounded by the ones that are green and rolling. But I’m actually referring to things in life that just seem mountainous.

For instance, there’s the “Denali” of dirt that invades my clothing and house on a daily basis. And the “Fuji” of food that needs to be purchased and prepared for two sons, ages 12 and 15. Then there’s the “Everest” of endless bills that remind me every minute that I am on a slippery slope.

One night I was tackling a “Logan” of laundry when my landlord came to inform me that he was raising the rent in two months’ time. Suddenly, an “Aconcagua” of anxiety reared its ugly peak, and I waved a clean white t-shirt in surrender and went to bed.

Taking a Break

The following weekend, my youngest son and I headed for Maine to attend a music concert at which my eldest son would be singing with other students from Christian schools throughout the Northern New England Conference.

Much of the drive was scenic, with spring-charged rivers and snow-patched mountains. I put aside the cares and concerns of every day and simply enjoyed the beauty of God’s northern creations. We stopped several times to walk our dog, Barkley, eat, and just relax. In one of these moments, I paused to thank Jesus silently for this respite.

The evening was filled with the glorious sounds of youthful musical talent, climaxing with the song, “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” The concert ended late, and we didn’t get on the road until 10:30 that night. The drive would take approximately four hours. I thought about staying somewhere overnight but decided to save the money.

Around midnight, we were traveling through the small town of Bartlett, New Hampshire. We had seen very few cars on the road, so when I saw headlights behind me, I thought it might be someone who had been at the concert. My older son was sitting next to me, watching a movie on his iPad. The younger son was in the backseat, asleep. Light snow reflected in my headlights that eventually became heavier and started hitting the windshield, making driving a bit more challenging.

The headlights were still behind me, and I noticed the driver flashing high beams. Again, I wondered if these were friends from the academy in Vermont where my kids attended school. But something didn’t feel right.

We were approaching a section of the road that divides into four lanes, allowing slower traffic to move right and faster ones to pass. I drove into the right lane, hoping that this vehicle would pass. Indeed, the headlights moved into the left lane, and we noticed that they belonged to a white truck with a double cab. My son noticed that the truck was now going the same speed as us, which seemed unusual if the driver wanted to pass. Suddenly, the truck moved ahead and into the middle of our two lanes and slowed down. I saw brake lights, and the truck stopped.

Instinct Takes Over

I had only a brief moment to decide whether to try to pass on the left, which would have put us in the path of oncoming traffic, or go to the right, perhaps causing our vehicle to go off the side of the road. I felt myself swerving to the right.

As soon as we passed on the right, the truck picked up speed and drove behind us again. I grabbed my cell phone, even though my mind told me that we would never get a signal. I looked at my phone screen—no bars. Something told me to dial anyway. An operator answered! I tried to remain calm as I told her the details and she tried to pinpoint my location. When I realized the truck was about to pass me and that the operator was going to transfer me to a dispatcher, I panicked and screamed, “Don’t hang up! Don’t leave me!” She stayed on the line as the truck drove past us, then sped off.

The dispatcher eventually connected me to a state trooper—again with no bars on the phone—and he told me to meet him at a particular location. I was afraid the truck might be waiting somewhere ahead of us, so the officer remained on the line with me. We never lost the connection. After stopping and speaking to the trooper, I felt that we were safe to head home.

As we pulled away from the intersection, I looked over at my older son, who had remained amazingly calm through the whole thing. I commented on his calmness, and he said that he had been spending a lot of time with God lately and he knew that God would take care of us. He had been praying the whole time.

We arrived home around 3:30 a.m. That day, the words of a song kept singing in my heart: “‘Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for faith to trust Him more.” My son had practiced that song all through music clinic, perhaps meditating on its meaning and applying it to his own life. He felt connected to God.

Suddenly the mountainous terrain of my life did not seem so insurmountable. The chores, the errands, the meetings, the awesome responsibility of being a single mom in a world filled with multiple demands seemed like grains of sand on a Cape Cod shore. I had been in a place of utter desperation and fear, surrounded by mountains in the midst of a steep ascent, with no bars on my phone. But God saw me, His child, and He reached down and moved those mountains, allowing a signal to come through, connecting me to help.

Time has passed since this happened to our family. My sons went to school and shared it with everyone. I’m writing about it now because we can’t stop thinking about it. God moved mountains for me! If He can move that kind, He can give me the fortitude, strength, and attitude it takes to conquer any and all obstacles. I simply need to stay connected.

We don’t need cell phones to stay connected to God. We don’t have to wait until we have a signal. We won’t ever have to say, “Don’t hang up! Don’t leave me!” God is always there. “He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:8, NKJV).

Sue Kingman is principal of Bay Knoll School in Rochester, New York. Her two sons are now married.