Who You Riding With?

Whew y’all. About a month ago, the Lord dropped in my spirit the idea of taking a road trip with my Mommy to see family. Like everyone, she’s been tucked in our home since March 2020. While she and I are both vaccinated from Covid19, we didn’t desire to do airplane hopping. So instead, we elected to drive, which minimized our contact with others and additionally allowed us to see multiple groups of family members across the southeast. Memories from childhood trips from Chicago to Arkansas and Chicago to even South Dakota flooded my mind with laughter and comfort. I eagerly anticipated the same traveling with my Mommy. We packed our clothes and a cooler and our favorite snacks and headed out. Just the day prior to our trip, I’d moved the post graduate student to her new home and while staying in a hotel, I noticed a sticker on the elevator door that read, “Not traveling together? Don’t ride together.” This was an effort to decrease the potentiality of being in contact with others and exposing oneself to the virus, however, it spoke in volumes to me, especially when considering the road trip to which I was embarking, but more importantly from a spiritual grounding.

Riding with God is not always the smooth sailing that I feel was promised to me as a child when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. The elders made sure my name was spelled properly on my certificate of baptism and that the date was accurate, but that’s about where the transparency ended. Perhaps it was because the full truth would have been too much for my little brain to comprehend. For if I understood that the accepting Christ as the lead navigator of my life would also subject me to trauma, I may have elected to pass on the invitation to salvation. After all, in my adolescence, and admittedly in my adulthood, I just sometimes feel that Almighty God should opt us out of some occurrences – but sadly, that is not the case. However, the beauty is that we are not riding alone and in those desperate times when we don’t have the strength to go on, God will literally take the wheel.

“Not traveling together? Don’t ride together” is a safety precaution. It is desired as a force field so to speak to ensure our wellness. We have experienced insurmountable loss and for our well being, God desires us to be connected and affirmed in spaces and with people who protect our peace. I am not suggesting that we will not be subjected to difficult – after all that was in the fine print of that certificate – but as we come to the realization of who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that we move through our designated journey, we can take in the majestic scenery along the way.

If the Lord allows, my mother will be 88 in July. She is blessed with relatively good health and mind. As the date neared for our trip, she washed and packed her clothes, she prepared food for our dog who was to be boarded, she made phone calls to inform family of our travel, she gave our plants a good watering and made certain that when we return, all things would be in order. Before leaving, she prayed for our safety as well as that of others. Afterwards, she got in the car and was prepared to ride. When I think about the signage and this thing we call life, I wonder how often I mimic my Mommy. To what extent do I do everything I can and leave the rest to God? She no longer drives and God forbid, if something happened to me while driving, she’d have to wait until the authorities arrived. Many times, I don’t desire to “wait” but instead “hotwire” the journey to go on as I elect. But is that truly where God lies? When God is the authority, what does the wait entail? Should I simply sit and enjoy my snacks or find my own way out?

I Kings 19:11-13 reads, “Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” I don’t always desire to wait for the small still voice. When God doesn’t seem attainable or audible, I can busy myself in making the noise that I so desperately desire – wrong and loud.

As I stared at the signage, and was compelled to capture the image via my phone, I considered how many times I’ve elected to go in a direction that God did not ordain. Had my mother and I got in the car and at some point, she decided, “I want to go to Chicago,” while I was under the impression that we were going to New Orleans, “Houston, we were going to have a problem.” There is a line of demarkation by which we arrive in relationship with others, and perhaps more poignantly, relationship with God whereby we must collectively desire to go in the same direction. And in going in that same trajectory, we must prepare ourselves accordingly that the ride may not go as we anticipate, but in the end, it will be well worth the trip. When we truly ride with Christ, we must prepare ourselves for a ride whose navigated path may take us into unfamiliar territory. However, when we know Him, we can comprehend that He will not leave us by ourselves. Riding with Jesus, like the signage suggested, is for our good, to minimize our exposure to harm – even when it doesn’t feel that way – or doesn’t look that way.