“Arrived!” My GPS proudly announced that my destination was supposedly on my right.
I slowed the car and frowned, looking all around to see if I was somehow missing the location. On my left was a massive corn field, while miles of beautiful farmland greeted me on my right. I seriously doubted that an outdoor concert was in the middle of all of this. McKenzie leaned forward from the back seat and cautiously asked, “Are we here?”
“I don’t think so!” I nervously chuckled while making a quick U-turn. I pulled over to the side of the road to reenter the address into my phone and large raindrops began to fall from dark, ominous clouds. I turned and smiled at my daughter. “So will you be bummed if we miss this concert or if is cancelled when we get there?”
She made a cute face and smiled, “Well, maybe a little.” I opened a more reliable app for directions which said that we were about 18 miles away from our actual destination. I glanced at my watch and realized the concert was starting in 6 minutes. I looked at my sweet daughter and said, “Ok, let’s hope these directions are more accurate. We might miss some of the show, but at this point, I just want to get there!”
McKenzie and I had decided the night before to drive to Chadds Ford, PA, to see Sara Groves in concert. We both love her music, and it had been years since I had seen her perform. When I learned that she was giving a free concert only an hour and half away from home, I couldn’t resist. The last time McKenzie attended one of Sara’s concerts, she was two years old. Her endurance was lacking at that age, so my husband took her home early. She woke the next morning to her sisters’ excitement as they told her that not only did they meet Sara Groves, but they got autographs and pictures too. It was now one of those dinner time stories that often surfaces about how McKenzie had missed her moment to meet Sara Groves…or “Sara Droves” as McKenzie called her then since she struggled with Ts and Gs. It seemed both adventurous and special that McKenzie and I would drive to this random place together, and I couldn’t wait.
As we drove through the pouring rain, I wondered how the night would conclude. Would we ever arrive at the church and if we did, would big signs be waiting for us, announcing that the concert had been cancelled due to the storm? I scolded myself a bit for blindly trusting some app that someone had recommended as the “hot new map app” and wondered aloud why I didn’t look at the map more carefully before we left. I had happily made every turn the computerized voice instructed me to take without ever questioning or wondering if “she” was leading me in the right direction. It sounded right to me and the app seemed friendly and confident and fun so how could it be wrong really?
How easily I could run with that analogy about life!
Sometimes I feel like I am just blindly walking through my day, following whatever crosses my path, without ever thinking about my actions or thinking about anything, really. A life without intention leads nowhere. I don’t want to live like that .
Anyway, I digress.
After studying the map, looking at the church website, and choosing a better app, we were on our way. And suddenly our surroundings seemed more appropriate for what I had been expecting in the first place. As we pulled into the large church parking lot, I spotted the field where the concert would be held and saw tarps covering the stage and various tables. No one was outside, but the parking lot was still filled so I told McKenzie that maybe they had moved the concert inside. We ran as fast as we could for the auditorium, and I immediately heard Sara Groves singing. My heart smiled as we quickly walked through the doors of the auditorium and a kind man greeted us with, “There are still lots of seats on the right.”
We worked our way through a row somewhat close to the stage, and I smiled at the girl seated next to me. As the song ended, I leaned towards her and asked, “Did we miss much?” She shook her head and said, “Not at all! That was the first song!” Mckenzie hugged me, and we laughed and settled in for an amazing show.
I sat mesmerized by Sara’s music, my heart soaking in every word, every lyric, every beautiful chord progression on the piano. As the concert ended, the pastor of the church thanked Sara and announced that Sara would be in the lobby to sign autographs for anyone who was interested. I wish you could have seen the look on my daughter’s face, all wide-eyed and smiling next to me.
And so, nine years later, after a tearful night as a two year old, to a fun, directionally-challenged night as an eleven year old, McKenzie, and I held each other’s hands, waited in line and then this…
Sometimes we think we are going in the right direction but have no clue where we are really going. We trust situations that really aren’t that trustworthy and never take the time to question whether the things we are following are really in our best interest or if they are leading us to our goal. We believe that our lives don’t matter and that we really can’t make a difference. We cling to the words of the people in our lives who tell us we have changed or that we are too old to pursue a certain dream and what we have always wanted do just isn’t really practical now, is it?
We listen to that voice that sounds so “confident” as it says, “Where will you find the money or the time for that?” We stop dreaming and just follow the directions we think we have been given; we stop questioning, and we stop thinking about what truth might really look like. And then we feel surprised when we find ourselves surrounded by gigantic corn fields and farmland and wonder how in the heck we got there. Living a life of intention matters. I am tired of just going through the motions and making it through the day. I want something bigger, something more.
It doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it involves great patience and a lot of waiting. I don’t think McKenzie ever thought that nine years later she would meet Sara “Droves”… Groves. She had given up on having that moment and just always thought it would be a dinner time story to share with her sisters. And yet, nine years later, there we were giggling as we walked to the car. The story had come full circle.
Have you given up on anything in your life? Have you decided that God will never forgive or redeem or restore what you had once hoped for? Maybe it is time to stop listening to the voices that continue to convince you that too much time has passed or that there might be hope for someone else but not you.
Over the next few weeks, I want to share some stories with you about a recent trip to Nogales, Mexico. This trip uncovered and reminded me about things about myself that I had forgotten….or worse, had dismissed because I just wasn’t sure how to be that person anymore. I hope you will join me as I share these stories. I hope the stories will make you think and will challenge all of us to embrace hope again.