For the past couple of months, I have been swamped and overwhelmed with life. I have asked and even came to the point of begging God to bring my drive and spark back to my life. I HATE when I feel myself slipping into the apathetic, go-through-the-motions mindset. I haven’t blogged for these past couple of months because I’ve felt dry, used up, worn down, and in a spiritual rut. I’ve seen people that I love deeply go through difficult trials while I stand helpless to watch the sorrow from the sidelines.
Today, I traveled home to PA to spend Easter with my family. Every time I start the long trek home, I get mildly depressed as I think about all the traffic that awaits me. 95 north is literally brutal, especially during rush hours and Easter weekend. I wasn’t expecting this ride home to be any different from the previous trips, but it was.
The trip started as usual, tons of traffic, so I did exactly what I always do: turned on the music and started eating. ☺️ Suddenly, my sister, who was driving In the car ahead of me was pulling over. Of course, as the rational person I am, I thought she had a flat tire or her car was stalling. As I was planning to pass her and pull over, something in my review mirror caught my eye- the flashing lights of a police car. Suddenly, I realize that my sister is not the only person who pulled over. Oops. I instantly feel stupid and get out of his way.
I was too distracted to even notice what was going on around me. For the past couple of months, I have felt myself become numb to everything around me. I just continue on my way, doing everything that I know to do, listening to my tunes, and just going with the flow of traffic. Every once in a while on this little sliver of my road of life, God sends something small to get my attention- little warning signs that keep me desiring Him and fighting sin that so easily besets me. All to often, I keep right on driving through my life, oblivious to God’s early warning signs. Yes, sometimes I will pull over, but even after I pull over and refocus, it’s only a matter of time before I’m back to my tunes and MY road of life.
Then suddenly, a tunnel. On my drive today, I came up on the famous Baltimore Tunnel. To be honest, I’m never too thrilled. Tunnels are small, dark, scary, and there are so many cars that pack into tunnels. The worst part is: you even have to pay for the painful experience!! The tunnel immediately has all my attention. This is not just open roads with traffic this is an enclosed space with traffic. Making it that much more dangerous to simply go-with-the-flow through it.
Trials are a lot like tunnels. We go our merry way and then sooner or later, we have a big scary tunnel staring us down. We think, “Okay, time to focus. Time to turn down the tunes and watch all sides making sure a collision in a tight area won’t hinder the rest of the population.” For me, the police car trial sent my way gets my attention for a little while, but a tunnel trial shocks me back into keeping my guard up and not slipping into complacency and sin.
During my tunnel trial, I think about turning back. This tunnel trial is too long and too dark for me. I will never make it to the other side. I want to turn around, give up, get out. If you turn around in a tunnel, all the cars following will most likely either crash or follow your leading. I realize that if I give up and turn around when I hit a tunnel trial, that those closest to me and those in my circle of influence will either crash or turn around and give up with me. The simple fact that there will always be someone following you, forces you to keep going, to keep fighting, to realize that the tunnel trial is not just about you or me.
As I started my plunge into the Baltimore Tunnel, my tunes started to fade! So there I am, in the middle of a dark tunnel, cramped with others and no music! I was even on my favorite song! As I experience trials, it is so easy to not hear anything, feel anything, see anything,or notice anything. You are consumed with the tunnel trial and nothing else. . Sometimes, I can’t even figure out where God is during this time. Tunnel trials feel lonely, empty and even more so when there are tons of people around. Sometimes you hear the static, but words of life and echoes of mercy are dampened by your spirit of self-focus and getting out of this dreaded tunnel! Now, I understand why people have a competition on who can hold their breath the longest through the tunnel. Holding your breath is an easy escape from the reality around us. Just like in a trial, many people hold their breath and get “tunnel vision” when riding through a trial. All resources are utilized for the sole purpose of getting out of the trial and our breath is held so tight that if even one person says something remotely close to offending us, we might blow up. We seem to forget that there are others that are going through the tunnel trial just as we are because we are too focused on ourselves getting out of the trial.
Finally, I see a glimmer of hope. Up ahead is the light of day! The Baltimore tunnel and my trial tunnel are coming to an end! I emerged from the Baltimore tunnel to see a breathtaking scene of the sun setting on Baltimore. I love watching sunsets, especially when they are over a city skyline. I could feel myself breathe easily as the dark, dampness from the tunnel dissipated behind me. The release and peace makes my tunnel experience all worth it. Even missing my favorite song wasn’t too devastating. It’s crazy how the intensity of the tunnel trial dwindles as we become farther removed from the situation.
I keep traveling down the road, now with renewed purpose and a greater appreciation for the beautiful scenery around me. However, for the remainder of the trip,I did think about that tunnel a handful of times. Trials can haunt us long after we traveled through that tunnel. As we think about those tunnel trials, the memory of the sunset and peace afterward dominates our memory of the trial. Sometimes it may take years, decades, or it may even take a lifetime to fully heal from each tunnel trial, but the road we travel today is made up of many tunnel trials that have brought us where we are. As we look back, we realize that we could have never gotten through on our own. I realize that the dark, scary tunnel is no surprise to God and even if I felt that God was silent, He was right there, seeing me through each step of the way.
Tunnel trials are all around us and we even ride through the tunnels of our close friends and relatives with them. Tunnel trials grab your attention and remind you to focus on keeping your guard up against the world. As you go through your tunnel trial today, know that God is on the other side and nothing surprises Him and He planned the beautiful road map of your life perfectly. Not only does He know your trial tunnels, but He experienced the worst trail tunnel of all that we remember on Good Friday. He bore the deepest pain anyone could ever feel as He carried the sins of all mankind on His shoulders. Christ triumphed our greatest trial of spiritual death through His death and three days later came through the tunnel to triumph our daily trials on our road of life. This Easter weekend, I am thankful for my tunnels and for the precious truths they teach me about the One who lives for me. I am thankful that God blesses me with tunnels on my path and winding roads to keep my focus on Him and to change me to be more like Him than when I started…