Adventure in Trust
“Let’s sing Christmas carols,” I suggested to my parents and sisters. We were traveling by car to our grandparents’ farm in South Dakota the winter before I turned ten.
“Well, you know I can’t carry a tune,” mother said, “but I love to listen to you girls, so go ahead.” We sang one carol after another. It added to my warm feeling to hear my quiet Dad also singing.
The carols seemed more meaningful that year than before. No wonder the angels got so excited, I thought, as I sang: “Mild he lay his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth,” (from “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley). I’d recently experienced that “second birth.”
Looking out at the early evening stars, I pictured the shepherds receiving the news from the angels: “Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:11, NIV).
As a toddler, I’d lived with Grandpa and Grandma for two years while Dad was in the Navy, so I’d formed a deep attachment. I loved the annual summer visits and now felt thrilled that we lived close enough to spend Christmas with them, too.
“Mama, will we be there in time for dinner?”
“Yes, they’ll have a late dinner for us, dear.”
Halfway to our destination, the car stalled. “Good thing we made it to this service station before it quit,” said Dad. “Looks like the others are all closed.”
“What’s the matter, Dad?” my sister asked. “Why did the car stop?”
“Looks like the points are shorting out,” Dad said. He got out and went into the station. After the service station attendant looked under the hood, Dad got back in the car. “Says he can’t fix it,” he informed Mom. He handed her a bag of peanuts he had bought.
Mom and Dad must have been disappointed. They’d worked so hard, and had only a couple days off, and here we sat at a gas station. Yet they didn’t act irritated or upset. They passed around the bag of peanuts, and we ate together, snug and warm in the car.
My parents had begun learning to trust God that fall. “Remember Romans 8:28,” Dad told us. “In all things God works for the good of those who love him,’ (NIV). Let’s trust him now.”
So we waited. To me, this seemed like an adventure. What would God do? We were safe, loved each other, and enjoyed being together. We ate peanuts and sang more carols while we waited. It will be ok, I thought. Grandma and Grandpa will be happy to see us whenever we get there.
It made me happy to think about Grandpa. I felt he loved and accepted me unconditionally; his gentleness and kindness made me feel important and special and valuable. His sense of humor made him fun to be around, but he was also wise. I felt eager to see him.
After some time, another car pulled up to the station (which would have been closed if we hadn’t been there). The driver, a serviceman going home on leave, expressed his thankfulness to find a place to get gas. He talked with my Dad and said, “Let me take a look; maybe I can fix it.”
In a short time, he had our car fixed and both cars were on their merry way. Mom had phoned to explain to Grandma and Grandpa. The service station attendant went home for Christmas, knowing he’d been a blessing to two families who would have been stranded if his station had been closed.
As we drove the rest of the way, I thought of the wonder of Christmas—that God became a human being in order to bring us into relationship with himself. He came as a baby and grew just like us. Then, as a man, he fulfilled his purpose for coming to earth by giving his life as a ransom to set us free. Then he arose! Easter completes Christmas, for the relationship could be restored only by Christ’s atoning death and resurrection.
Our midnight arrival didn’t dampen our joy. One of the loveliest scenes in my memory is of Grandpa and Grandma standing in the lighted doorway as we drove up their driveway. They beamed with happiness. My heart almost burst with joy as they welcomed us with warm hugs.
It seems fitting this was the year I received my first Bible, the one I used while growing up. This Christmas gift engraved “Judith Anderson,” from my Grandparents, reminds me of the beginning of my lifelong adventure of learning to trust that God really does work in everything for good for those who love him.
This PE story, Adventure in Trust, has been published in EVANGEL, VITAL CHRISTIANITY, SEEK, PARENTING TREASURES, and SUNFLOWER SEEDS (WCW). Watch for a blog soon in which we will discuss ‘lessons in trust’ from the book of Isaiah.