Faithfully yours - Driving through a white-out
- Published on Sunday, March 5, 2017
By Neil Strohschein
The Neepawa Banner
Like most kids growing up on a farm, I was driving farm equipment and our old grain truck (a 1947 Mercury 2-ton, maximum speed 30 mph) by the age of 12. So I have been driving for over 50 years; the last 20 of which have been on the highways and district roads in Manitoba.
In recent years, I have paused before every trip to offer a simple prayer: “Dear Lord, I offer you these minutes and miles. Please keep me alert as I travel, bring me and my passengers safely to our destination and safely home again. And please help me be a good representative of my heritage, my family, my employer, and most of all of you, my Lord and my God. Amen.”
That prayer took on a special meaning recently while I was driving to Winnipeg. As I was driving south on Hwy 16, just past the LUD of MacDonald, I met a Manitoba Highways snow plow coming north. It was trying to remove three to four inches of fresh snow from the east shoulder of the highway; but a strong wind from the east was blowing it right back onto the road. All I could see was a huge white wall of snow coming my way at about 50 kmph.
I did what I had been taught to do in these situations—tapped the brake pedal several times to let the drivers behind me know that I was slowing down, slowed down to a safe speed and waited for the wall of snow to hit me. In five seconds it had come and gone and I was on my way.
As I reflected on this experience, I thought of a man whose family I met in Edmonton’s University Hospital. He was in his mid-40s. After more than 20 years of faithful service to the same company, he was suddenly laid off. He never finished high school and had few marketable skills. When his EI ran out he panicked, not knowing how he would support his family. Sadly, he never survived this crisis. He died by his own hand; I conducted his funeral.
Emotionally, this man felt like he was driving through a white-out. Others had survived similar crises. But sadly, he lost his sense of direction and ultimately his life.
In my lifetime, I and many of my friends have had similar experiences. Job losses, a divorce, the sudden death of a partner or child, a business failure—these can happen at any time. When they do, they disrupt every facet of life. At times it feels like you’re in the middle of a white-out like the one I described above—you feel lonely and alone; with no idea of what your next step should be, let alone how you will spend the rest of your life.
This is not the time to rush ahead and make major decisions. Decisions made in haste often cause more problems than they solve. When crises hit, do what wise drivers do during a white-out. Slow down. Breathe deeply. Grieve what you have lost. Then move forward—slowly—with your hand in the hand of the God who wants nothing but the best for you.
You see, nothing that happens in any of our lives ever takes God by surprise. He knows it’s coming. He knows how painful it will be for us and those around us. He will guide us along the path of recovery and rebuilding, always encouraging us with these words: “Walk this path along with me—the very best is yet to be!”