Everyone was exhausted from the fast pace of our traveling. Ben and I both enjoy Colorado, and Caleb had really wanted to see the Tesla Museum they have there. (It's actually by appointment only-so I had called and gotten an appointment set up for Friday morning). We decided to spend 3 nights there before the remainder of making our way home. Having stayed in Des Moines, Iowa, we knew that everyone was pushing it and needed some rest.
At about 9:15pm, we arrived at our hotel. We noticed pretty quickly that the hotel didn't *quite* look like what we had seen on the internet. Our room was on the back side of the property. We lugged our half-asleep crew across the property, and climbed the stairs to the room. No elevator would mean several trips for Ben. The room was....not amazing, but we were all so tired! I came out of the restroom and noticed some tiny feet scurrying across the floor. Not any of OUR tiny feet. It was a mouse. (Ben said he thought there might be a nest under the sofa sleeper.)
Well, knowing that no one would get any rest in that room...we checked out! But we needed a place to stay, and it was 10pm at night.
After an hour and a half of searching and calling...every hotel within 60 miles was booked.
This was so familiar. When we were in NY and had no where to stay, I remembered that the Lord was trying to teach me. He has a different direction for us to go. Don't panic. Trust Him. I was trying so hard to listen, to remember.
We found a Carl's Jr parking lot and tried to rest in our van. I was so cold and uncomfortable. I fed Elijah and then told Ben I was going to keep driving and let everyone sleep. (We had pulled a couple of all nighters on the way out).
On the dark and lonely road, I had a lot of time to pray and talk with God. Both Ben and I were disappointed. We felt the need to rest...the longing for a bed. We wanted to slow down and enjoy some time with the kids. But God's plan was different. Through prayer, I entrusted my disappointment to Him. But then, I started feeling so sad. Caleb especially was looking forward to the Tesla museum. We had hoped to visit Garden of the Gods, and maybe Focus on the Family. Quickly and quietly, I felt the Lord stir in my spirit: if I could trust the Lord with my own disappointment, then I could trust Him with Caleb's as well.
The night was long and dark. I found myself driving through Veil, Colorado thinking, "Lord! There's so much beauty here, but I can't see any of it in the dark!"
And so it is. The Lord unfolded before me so many lessons on this road trip. This life is a journey...we are headed for home, but we aren't there yet. There are some stops on the way that you just want to stop and enjoy. There are some that leave you reeling, and longing to move on as quickly as possible. There is joy and there is pain in the journey. But always, always....our eyes are fixed upon home. Sometimes, the darkness hides the beauty that is always there. Sometimes, the night seems so much longer than we feel like we can endure.
But no matter the journey, those who are in Christ have a promise. Joy comes in the morning.
The morning may feel far off. The difficulties of this life can leave us ragged and war-torn. But there is beauty, even in the darkness. And look at the kindness of our God: that very same stretch of highway I found myself driving in the dark, was one that we had driven in the beautiful morning light on the way out. Sometimes navigating darkness is all about remembering the light.
And so. The morning light greeted us and we made our way to a small cafe called "Daily Bread."
We drove the rest of the way home and are safe in Ojai, California. All of us are overjoyed to have reached our destination. I will fly back with Elijah a week from Monday. I will do paperwork, and hopefully we will all continue to process and share. But in the meantime, we rest. And the light is sweeter after the darkness.
Joy comes in the morning.
The old hymn calls out true and steady:
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
On Christ the solid rock I stand!
All other ground is sinking sand.
He painted the sky for us somewhere between Utah and California:
A favorite song of mine these days:
What if these blessings come through rain drops?
What if the healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know you're near?
What if the trials of this life...are your mercies in disguise.