We stood on the dusty shoulder watching the tow truck driver load up the car. Transport trucks roared past. I turned to the state trooper. “Thank you for your help.” He had spent at least an hour with us that afternoon, trying to identify and solve the problem. My words seemed inadequate.
The afternoon sun was hot. It was a pretty place to break down, at least. There was a little pond and some trees in blossom. There were red-winged blackbirds, my favourite. But we were in the middle of the country—a different country, no less.
I was on my way to Cincinnati for a conference with a girl I had only met once before. Midway through Ohio, her car began to clank and the engine cut out. We coasted to a stop at the side of the interstate, smoke billowing from the hood. I tried hard to push down my panic. We were hours from our hometown in Canada and a mile from the nearest highway exit. The only building of note was an empty, white farmhouse across the fence.
Lord, help us!
I had been terrified of this trip from the second I decided to go. The kind of terrified where your heart pounds and your breath comes fast and you lay awake in bed at night silently crying out to God for what to others must seem like no good reason whatsoever. The process is a familiar one. I’ve dealt with my share of fear in my life.
But this is a story of freedom.
Less than a week before we left, back on Good Friday, I was getting ready for church when I felt the Lord speak to me: “I want to heal you of anxiety.” If I wasn’t so sure it was Him, I would have laughed outright. I’ve quietly carried this burden for as long as I can remember.
I’ve begged. I’ve pleaded. I’ve wept.
And I’ve worked hard to hide my crippled heart.
Two nights before my trip, I began to tell my husband about my deepest fear—one that has plagued me for years. One that seemed silly when spoken yet still gripped my soul. One that surfaced every time I had to go away from home. A fear that God alone knew.
As I stood at the side of the interstate less than 48 hours later thanking the state trooper for his help, I was still pushing down my nervousness. The officer smiled at me. Then casually, he called out my fear—my irrational, nonsensical fear.
He called it out right there at the side of the highway as if it was nothing.
My eyes blurred with tears. I knew immediately that this was a divine appointment, a prophetic encounter, a sacred moment.
I knew I’d better listen hard.
“You need to have faith,” the officer continued. “This is a test, and you’re failing big time. You’re failing big time! You need to learn to turn things over to Him.
“Do you know why God put you with her?” He gestured towards my travel companion, now a friend for life. “Because she has faith. She knows how to turn things over to Him. And it’s not an accident that God brought me along today either.
“Someday, your daughter—Do you have a daughter?”
I nodded. I have three.
“Someday, your daughter is going to go on a road trip with her friends, just like this. And what are you going to do?”
“Turn it over to Him?” I laughed weakly. “I’m getting better at it.”
The policeman nodded. “God uses these things to make us strong. He’s making you strong.”
The car was loaded and the tow driver was ready to go. I climbed into the front seat and put my purse in my lap. God had confirmed, once again, that He is with me. That there is nothing to fear.
He brought me more than halfway to Cincinnati just to remind me of that.
Hours later, we were back on the interstate in a rental jeep. It had taken the mechanic only a few minutes to determine that my friend’s car was broken beyond repair. She sold it to the tow company for a pittance. After a bit of a wait, a local car rental company hooked us up with a ride and we were on our way. There was only open road ahead.
I settled into my seat and smiled. Something had broken in me that day.
Somewhere in Ohio, I left my fear in the dust.