We got in the car near dawn on the Fourth of July to head up to Door County for a long holiday weekend with family. We made it to Two Rivers, Wisconsin, before their parade, scooted past the parade barricades in Sturgeon Bay and turned on Highway 57 for the drive up the quiet side of the peninsula.
Strangely enough we hit traffic as soon as we got to Bailey's Harbor. We would drive for several feet; then stop; drive a bit; then stop. We grew bored admiring the town's festive red, white and blue decorations. It was 10 a.m. There shouldn't be any traffic at all on July 4.
Was there a traffic accident? Was anyone injured? How long of a delay was this going to be? People expect us to be at the cabin by lunch. We were a bit slow on the uptake.
We not only arrive in Bailey's Harbor at the start of its parade, but it turned out that we were also unwittingly somehow in the actual parade line-up with no idea of how we got there. So we did the only logical thing—we joined the parade. We unrolled the car windows, gave our then young son permission to unbuckle his seat belt so he could stand up, and waved and yelled, "Happy Fourth of July" to the crowds lining both sides of the street. We even had a little flag he started to wave as we sailed through town, no longer delayed. Instead, we breezed down Highway 57, no more stoplights or stop signs to obey. Instead, people cheered and waved back at us as we went.
Wouldn't it be great if all the unexpected events in life were as fun and carefree as our appearance in the Bailey's Harbor Fourth of July parade. Unfortunately, life just doesn't cooperate. The path zigs insteads of zags. The road winds dangerously close to the edge, where the drop-off is steep—not to mention that a fear of heights.
We want to control and rein in the unexpected and make the path zag, not zig and steer clear of that edge. When there is a delay in the road, we want to know why, how long it will delay and can't God just wrap it up quickly so we can move on? What's around the next bend in the path? How will we know if our son will ever return to the Lord? Why is Andrew Brunson still incarcerated in Turkey? Why does the news every day have to be so relentlessly partisan? Can we have a fall where Kids' Harbor is fully staffed with grown ups by the middle of August?
The answer is the same to all these questions: we can't know. Not on our own. Not right now. And when our path takes yet another unexpected turn, we will trust God to make the path straight or we will cling to him even when it's not.
Though life doesn't seem to cooperate, maybe it does more than we realize. Maybe the hand that guides us through whatever is unseen up ahead or going on right now really is the kind, loving and nail-scarred hand of Jesus. Do we really believe it?
If so, Lord, open our eyes to see. Open our ears to hear. Help our voices to sing words of faith for whatever God has for us today. Give us courage to speak of Jesus to people we drive pass in the resurrection celebration that turns out to be not an accident, but a parade.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us ride in the celebration parade that is set before us.