'The Lord your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your very eyes, and in the wilderness, where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place. But in spite of this, you have no trust in the Lord your God, who goes before you on the way to seek out a place for you to camp, in fire by night, and in the cloud by day, to show you the route you should take.' (Moses' encouragement to the children of Israel) ~ Deuteronomy 1:30-33
I can remember so many adventures we had traveling with our children during summer months to see family or friends across the country. Almost always they were "road-trips" as we never had enough cash to take a family of six by plane or train. In fact, our kids still love telling the amazing Teeter-family-vacation stories of mayhem that each trip provided. And looking back… Winnie and I were so naïve, so young, taking risks that probably no sane person should contemplate. We just "headed out!" Not a care in the world! Yet, looking back… we were carried– "as one carries a child"—carried by our Heavenly Father.
I remember one summer when, with our four teenagers, we headed toward Southern California to attend a family wedding. It was just after buying a used diesel, king cab Ford pickup; found a reasonably priced, used cab-over-camper and we were going to try out the new camping experience.
Being a small man, this huge truck was truly more than I could handle. My kids told me I looked like 'Kermit the Frog' behind the wheel of this huge powerful machine. Nevertheless, my pride could handle all of it! I was big and tough enough!
Things were great all the way down through Oregon and through the central part of California past Bakersfield. We successfully climbed the 'Grapevine' grade and at the top of the grade took state route 138 across the upper Mojave Desert as a short cut to our final destination. It was the middle of the day in the summertime, not a great time to cross a desert with an untested vehicle weighed down with a very heavy camper carrying six adults and their belongings.
Sure enough 100 miles into the desert the engine started running very rough and I began to panic that we might have a breakdown in the middle of nowhere, no supplies, no water. And this route out toward Edwards Air Force Base was untraveled. We'd not seen a passing car for hours. So I kept driving, hoping that a small town or some development might appear. Then the engine just stopped running and we were coasting. I looked at my wife, she looked at me… we prayed!
God turned our engine off at just the right time. He placed an overpass directly in front of us where our vehicle coasted to a stop in its cooling shade from the sun. And about three hundred yards in front, out in the hot sun, an emergency call phone (there was no cell service). Reaching the phone to call for help, I looked back and discovered God had already provided. A highway patrol vehicle had pulled over next to the truck. The officer called a tow truck from the closest little town of Rosamond and eventually all six of us were crowded into the cab as our camper unit was taken to the only repair shop within a hundred miles.
God's grace continued to abound throughout the trip! I can remember the diesel mechanic allowing our children to follow him around while he took the entire engine apart to fix a blown cylinder. I remember learning of a new style of music. My oldest son asked the mechanic what his favorite style of music was. "Chicken Bop!" and he proceeded to demonstrate, eliciting great hoots and hollers from the kids. I remember the motel we stayed in (we called it the "Roach Motel" because when you walked in mid-day, three inch cockroaches scrambled everywhere).
I remember that a ride 200 miles into Los Angeles for parts was required. I remember my daughter getting sick and throwing up most of the day of the wedding. I remember this being the most expensive vacation we ever took. I remember making it back home… truck, camper and all six of us… safely at the end of the trip. I remember as I look back… the enveloping arms of my Heavenly Father carrying us through the entire adventure.
How often these moments are forgotten; I so identify with the children of Israel who did not trust God to go with them into the Promised Land. Even though for 40 years of desert wandering they had been protected from the sun by day and warmed by night. Even though they were provided meat, bread and water to live each day. Even as they had been lead to a land of milk and honey, they chose not to trust God.
We are never promised that everything will be great in our pilgrimage on this earth. And yet, just as Moses encouraged the children of Israel, God does promise to lead you to rest, to protect and provide. He says to you in his Word, "I go 'before you on the way to seek out a place for you to camp, in fire by night, and in the cloud by day, to show you the route you should take.'" Enjoy these days of rest, and as you do, look around for moments of being "carried!"