My daughter, my eldest and only daughter, just married an amazing man.
From start to finish it was an utterly unique and worshipful wedding. Naphtali designed her own dress. Her brother Abraham composed and performed a wedding march written just for her. I (and some stalwart assistants) made the wedding dinner (yes, involving salmon!). Aaron’s family made the dessert (A Maine staple: Whoopie pies). The week of celebration was glorious in every detail.
The ceremony ended with Aaron and Naphtali shedding their wedding shoes for workboots: (hers, Xtra Tuff, of course. His, Wolverines.) Together now, man and wife, they walked out of the church shod for the beautiful labor of building a life together.
And now, the wedding is over; the new year begins, and another adventure begins for us as well: Duncan and I are driving home. We'll start in Spokane, Washington and will take the Alcan highway to Homer, Alaska, where we'll catch the overnight ferry to Kodiak.
It's somewhere between 2,600 and 3,000 miles. Not so far, but it's winter, the dead-heart of the dark of winter in the coldest of countries. Our route will look something like this.
I LOVE road trips, (even after our 15,000 mile road trip last year) but this trip is mostly about need: we bought a used van in Washington (because our 22 year old van has used up it's Vehicular Resurrection Quota) and now we need to get it home.
This is my 4th or 5th journey on the Alcan. We drove it once from Florida to Alaska in December, when I was pregnant with my daughter, 31 years ago. We hit -40 temps all through the Yukon. As we prepare for this trip, everyone ends their goodbye’s with the words, “travel safe.”
I suspect that most of you are not drooling with envy as you envision our shivering journey North. But standing in the first week of this new year, I am thinking about more than this. This odd-numbered year looms like a distant frigid country with few roads and many glaciers and threats along the way. Our car is so small, the snow is so deep, the temps are so low, the sun is so dim and the destination is so far.
Will we really travel safely?
Who doesn’t want to be safe? In God’s Book, so many men wrote about safety, about rest, about deliverance and comfort. Drink these in (again) because they are true, so true:
King David: “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. . . my body also will rest secure.”
Paul: “But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength . . . Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4: 17-18)
Jesus: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Daniel: "My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths and they have not harmed me . .”
Peter: “ . . . you . . .through faith are shielded by God’s power . . .
David: “I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain. I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side.”
But the men who wrote and believed these words about safety were chased and hunted by sword and horse. They were stoned and imprisoned, encircled by ten thousand enemies and hungry lions. Some were tortured and killed.
No one in God’s Redemption Story lived a safe life. And yet every word they spoke about safety was true.
They could not know about safety unless they knew about danger.
When we sit huddled in our locked houses behind our gated walls, if safety is our first concern, even then we will not feel safe enough.
Dear friends, our greatest need as we journey through 2019 is not to feel safe. Our greatest need is to be secure.
And because my security is the explosive power and love of Jesus, that overwhelms my own weakness and fear, I can go anywhere he leads. I can do anything he asks.
And so can you.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
This is the life we’re meant for.
Let’s make 2019 a year of boldness, of courage, of crossing fires, rivers and oceans in the beautiful name of Jesus.
What are some ways you know God is calling you out of safety into security?
What is one “river” you now God is calling you to cross in 2019?