I am an open road junkie, and find few things more enjoyable than strapping my yawning, confused children into a vehicle and traversing random back roads, with no bathroom breaks. It almost always works out. Almost.
Interstate 77 is a fairly mundane stretch of pavement, striking a path through the rugged West Virginia mountains, and has been so well-worn by us, that I’d do almost anything to not drive it. Which is why, on one occasion, as we were preparing to head to Cleveland, I said to my wife, “How about we find a different way home?”
With the SUV fully burdened, we disembarked, our grill pointed north on a narrow state route, which I’m now convinced was route 666.
The country-side was smooth and festooned with farm-looking stuff, which eventually gave way to the foot hills of the Smokey Mountains. The road-paint eventually disappeared, then the berm dropped off, and nice smooth asphalt became rough, old and rutted.
When the hills and curves became sever, our fears were finally realized as our middle child, Mac, reported that he was feeling queasy. In moments, the car was stopped, and Mac was extruded to the outside where we all watched him from safe inside the car.
When nothing happened, he and my wife traded seats, putting him in the front, just to be sure, and I was forced to reversed course returning to the paved world, searching for civilization. In moments the landscape leveled and tensions were abased. Even I was beginning to relax, when, without warning, our little-one began to spew vomit, with the force of a fire hose. This event had several byproducts. For one, our teenage daughter, Erin, began to scream repeatedly, announcing to the cows on nearby farms that something was amiss. My wife gave orders, and implored Erin to promptly, “Shut it!” Me? I just tried to concentrate in spite of the fog horn going off in my ear.
We were hopelessly trapped on a rural by-way that had no pull-over opportunities, and compounding things, in my rear view mirror appeared what was maybe a teen-age sized monster truck, with a tailgating issue. All I know is, I could see nothing but grill.
A second spew began to come from Colin, and I’m pretty sure he was crying, most likely not from throwing up on himself, but because these were the people responsible for him, and this was the best they could do.
Then I saw a side-road just ahead. I began to slow and turned on my blinker, not that Goober could see it, seeing as he was in my trunk, but because I’m a pro and we follow protocol when anarchy is breaking loose.
I turned onto the street, and surprisingly we were transported to suburbia. Four-thousand square foot colonials lined the street, and with nice curb appeal too. Quickly, I pulled onto the tree lawn of the first house, threw it into park and the car became instantly vacant, except for Colin.
I left my wife to clean up the emotional wreckage that was our daughter, and I went to extract Colin. He was a mess, and so was his little car seat. Ignoring my revulsion, I stripped him down to his underwear, and was soon joined by my wife, who was armed with grocery store plastic bags, a roll of paper towels, a container of wipes and a clean set of clothes for him. I love that woman.
As the clean up continued, I suddenly heard Mac throwing up, at the front of the car. It was a sad reality of life, but he would have to go this one alone.
In minutes, we had everyone cleaned up, soiled items bagged and in the above-car carrier, and were back on the road. We even circled back to get Erin, who by then was simply whimpering, and hadn’t noticed we’d left.
Sometimes life can get out of control, and we can feel lost and overwhelmed. It happens to everyone, no matter their circumstances, and whether we go willingly into these situations, or they happen without our consent, God is there with us. You don’t always feel His presence, and I think He wants it that way. We feel alone and I think it is an expression of our love for Him, when we stay faithful. He will never abandon us, but He will sometimes teach us perseverance by letting things get tough, and allowing us a chance to pursue Him still.