“Patience is the companion of wisdom.”
I posted two days ago about being stuck on the Interstate in Illinois. At the time, we had been stuck for 15 minutes. It was 8:00 pm.
We began moving again around 1:47 AM!
We were stuck on the road for 6 hours. Two semis had jack-knifed on the road two miles ahead of us, blocking both lanes. To make matters worse, we were 11 miles from Champaign, IL, and the tow truck had to deal with the terrible roads to get there. Then he managed to get stuck, a salt truck careened into a guard rail, and several more tow trucks had to be called to the scene. It was excruciating.
It was also a lesson in patience.
I tend to be an impatient person. I want to do things now. I don’t like shopping around Christmas because I don’t like to wait in line. I prefer to drive on roads where I stand little chance of being in a traffic jam. And given the chance, I will always drive in crappy weather rather than wait it out. Last Sunday, I’m pretty sure the Lord sent a guardian angel to watch over us, because I probably could have placed us directly in the path of those trucks.
We stopped for gas around 6:45pm. Certainly not unusual. We used the same trip to empty bladders, and here is where decisions mattered. Rather than both going at the same time, we staggered our trips to the loo, thereby delaying our re-entry onto the road by probably 90-120 seconds. I also felt like buying a large hot chocolate, which I never drink in the afternoons because of the caffeine, and a pair of 1-liter bottles of water. We had half a liter already in the car, but I felt the urge to purchase those bottles because I thought the 2-for-$3 deal was good. All told, the staggered trips to the john and purchases put us back on the road about 4 minutes later than we could have been.
As I said, we were almost exactly 2 miles behind the accident. We were travelling about 30 mph. At that speed, one covers 2 miles in 4 minutes. That 4 minute “delay” at the gas station quite possibly saved our lives. Even if we had been ahead of the wreck, I counted almost 200 cars in the ditch in the ensuing 50 miles and at least 4 exits with abandoned or snowed-in cars, meaning that in all likelihood we would have wound up in a ditch or snowed-in on some exit.
Truth be told, our delay gave the Illinois DOT and state police time to move many cars and plow the road (although I use the term “plow” loosely). Instead of a horrendous night in a ditch, paying for a tow and/or repairs, and a hike through a blizzard, we simply had to sit in a warm car, listen to music and play games. Did I mention that the hot chocolate came in handy, and the water lasted us all night (although I had to pee on the side of the road a few times)?
Yes, I believe someone was looking out for us.
I don’t talk much about my faith on this blog. I’m not ashamed of it, nor would I feel the need to downplay it. It’s just not something that comes up as I relate these stories. Over the last year and a half, I’ve come to see the Lord’s hand in my life in many different ways, and as I look back at some hard times, I believe that I have had my own footprints in the sand. I have also come to believe that Jesus doesn’t always come out and openly work in our lives; He is sometimes instead rather cunning and playful in His work. I believe the need to pee at a different time than my wife may have been one of those moments. If my bladder alarm had signaled in tandem with hers, I wouldn’t have wandered by the water or hot chocolate. Hence, we wouldn’t have been delayed.
So while we complained about IL-DOT and the state police, we were safe. While we complained about not being home, we were warm. While we complained about pop music on today’s radio, we were fortunate. And while we complained about being stuck, we were alive.
Sometimes, it’s not the trip that gets you where you need to be. It’s the lessons you learn along the way.