Saturday, March 6, 2010

LOST... and Found

Part 2:
(part 1 here)

Golf Center Parkway exit. Was that it? Did the sign say Golf or Gulf? I couldn't be completely certain as I drove right by... it looked like Gulf, and the exit just didn't have a familiarity about it, so I drove on. Quickly, I crossed over to the city of Coachella, not remembering whether I'd passed Coachella on the way out. Coachella is a very small town, and before I could decide if I'd gone too far, I had already passed it and was heading into the barren desert. There were no street lights or city lights and the darkness quickly enveloped me.

"Ok, don't panic," I spoke aloud, "There is bound to be an exit right up the road."

Only there wasn't. Several minutes later, I had driven further into the shadowy landscape accompanied by an occasional trucker. I began to ask God to help me remain calm and to show me a place to turn around. Eventually, I found a turn out on the left hand side where I could see the outline of a big rig. Perfect. I could drive across the divider and carefully get back on the freeway going the other direction. If only there wasn't a guardrail on the other side.

Back on the freeway, heading toward Blythe, I called Patrick. I can't seem to find an exit, I told him. Could you look one up on MapQuest? I immediately sensed that Patrick was worried. I blinked back the tears.

"I don't see any exits at all," he said. "There literally aren't any. As soon as you find anything, you need to turn around."

"Ok, I love you," I replied.

By this time it was after 12:30am. I prayed and I desperately strained my eyes to find an exit on the horizon. Soon I found an exit, but I was disappointed to find it was only a rest stop, so I got back on the freeway again.

Tears began to fall as I struggled with fear and the dangerous scenarios which began to unfurl in my head. I had been driving for over twenty minutes past my Indio exit. Patrick couldn't help me, technology couldn't help me, my van couldn't help me, and I certainly was of no help to myself.

I continued to pray to the only One capable of offering the help I required.

"You are my only help and my salvation. I have faith in you and I trust in you to deliver me," I prayed.

I began to think of my Joshua, whose name means "God is my Salvation." He was born after Patrick and I had endured a church split which had spiritually crippled and discouraged us. As we fought depression and sin, the only thing we could believe, without a doubt, was that God was indeed our Salvation. We clung to that simple, but powerful fact, and wanted to be reminded of it on a daily basis.

I continued to utter "God is my Salvation" out loud. Yes, I believed it when He saved me, I believed it when Josh was born, and I still believed it as I prolonged my midnight drive toward Arizona. Just God and I in a desolate wilderness. My heart-rate slowed and I put my life in His sovreign hands.

And then the exit came.

Joshua Tree... it was Joshua Tree.

"Oh, thank you, Lord," I sobbed in gratitude. "You are my everlasting Salvation! I can't even comprehend how good You are!"

It was one of the most amazing, tangible moments of faith, trust, and worship I have ever experienced. As I corrected my direction and began heading back toward the hotel, my heart exploded with praise and song to my God who sees me, hears me, protects me, and saves me... from the darkest valley and even from myself.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Psalm 23:4

Sometimes I walk through spiritual valley times, too. My surroundings and circumstances become so dark and bleak that I cannot see any light. But God is always there with me. I keep calling out to Him and He answers. He is my Deliver and my Salvation.

He is my Joshua Tree.

Photo by E.J. Peiker


Jen said...

You really should submit some of your writings to be published- they're that good :)

Jamie said...

um, all i can say right now as i wipe the tears from my eyes is thank-you. this story touched my heart linda.

Karen said...

Thank you for sharing this "tangible moment of faith"... I really enjoy your blog entries. This one was awesome.

A.M.H. said...

This story gave me goosebumps. I love Jesus! Thanks for sharing.

Denise said...

we were learning about this psalm 23:4-6 this a.m., and ironically as i took notes, i thought of you. and you have posted this.

not coincidence :-)

here are my notes.

the valley of the shadow of death can also be translated as the valley of deep darkness, unfocused
dread, despair, anxiety (i've been there).

that we will "walk through the valley." we will not live the Shepherd will walk you through it.

that in this wonder-full psalm, the Lord is referred to in third person, until verse 4, when He is referred to in second person. David goes from speaking about God to speaking to God (in the valley).

we learned that the "You are with me" is the very center of these verses (in Hebrew).

recognizing that God is with us, often happens in the valleys. in the valley the Shepherd becomes necessity.

and last the sheep didn't have to have the courage to fight, protect, or run. they only needed courage to trust the Shepherd to get them through the valley, and to keep grazing (on Him) in the meantime.

i'm glad you are safe.

that the Shepherd has walked you through the valley.

joshua tree is beautiful.

Denise said...

oops. this paragraph is suppose to say
"that we will "walk through the valley." we will NOT live there. the Shepherd will walk you through it.

Linda Z said...

Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging comments. My "love language" is "words of affirmation," so it really means a lot to me! :)

Denise... thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful notes. I love that our Shepherd doesn't just avoid the valleys, but walks us through them and is beside us all the way. And I love that God put me on your heart. It is so neat to feel His love in that way! :)

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