It is no secret that the state of Vermont was hit extremely hard by hurricane Irene. Roads and bridges were washed away, leaving a dozen towns completely stranded. Homes and businesses were flooded and lives were tragically lost.
It was into this catastrophe that my husband ventured last Monday. He had stayed home over the weekend so that he would be here with us as the storm hit.
He left New Hampshire at 6:30 a.m. for a drive to work that would normally take only two and a half hours. He called me at 10:30 to say that he was having a lot of trouble getting very far into the state but he was going to try another route.
Three hours went by and the phone remained completely silent.
I was going through the motions of back-to-school shopping with my kids but I could feel my anxiety beginning to mount with each passing hour. Horrifying scenarios began to flash through my mind. I imagined his car being swept away by a flash flood or a road collapsing as he drove upon it, burying him under a pile of rocky rubble.
Then, as we turned into another parking lot in search of the perfect backpack, I was reminded of an interview I had heard with Ann Voskamp the day before. She had said this:
“Fear is always the ‘flee-ahead’….moving out of this moment. If I can stay in this moment and give thanks for even one thing, even in the dark…that keeps me here…and the grace is in this moment.”
I realized that I had been “fleeing ahead.”
In this moment, the sun was shining. I was with my son. We were both in good health. I was trading the sweetness and simplicity of now by fleeing ahead into the scary, murky, may-never-be.
Immediately, one of my memory verses came to mind: “Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give you…do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful, intimidated, cowardly, and unsettled.” —John 14:27 (Amplified version, emphasis added)
I asked forgiveness for worrying and whispered a prayer that He would help me be fully present in the now.
Jesus never invites us to flee ahead. He commands us to stay in the moment. Right now, this moment, is the only place that is real. It is the only place that I can experience His grace and sustaining power.
Within seconds of entering the store, my cell phone rang.
It was Doug, calling to tell me that he had to head back home because all the roads leading into the town where he works were closed. There had been no cell phone reception along the roads he had been traveling.
My body went weak with relief and praise filled my thoughts.
I had needlessly suffered by allowing myself to flee ahead.
The next time I am tempted to do that, I will call to mind John 14:27. I will thank Him that His grace is sufficient for this moment. I will rejoice that I can fully trust Him to guide and protect me and those I love. I will rest in the fact that I serve a good and faithful God who is firmly on His throne, even during the bad times.
Don’t flee ahead, no matter how strong the temptation. No good ever comes of it.
Stay in the moment.