Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day 23 | What Are We Doing?

For the past seven years, Janice and I have had at least one of our three kids living in the college town of Marquette, Michigan. Some people think we’re crazy to do this, but every winter we take a trip north to the frozen tundra of the Upper Peninsula. Of course, weather is always a concern when you head north in the winter months.

Of all the winter trips we’ve made to Marquette, this last weekend was the most weather adventurous. We had chosen to go that particular weekend because of our complicated work schedules.  If we didn’t go this weekend, the chances of us going at all this winter we’re pretty nil. We have a son in college and a daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter living in Marquette, so we were highly motivated to get there. But, as the trip approached, questions began to arise to whether this journey would be wise. Winter thunderstorms, heavy rains, followed by a cold snap promised icy roads. We even heard rumors of pending blizzard conditions in parts of the UP. I wasn’t sure this would be a safe trip to make.

We got up Friday morning, packed the car, and then took a quick look at the weather radar of Michigan to see what we’d be driving into. The radar seemed to show snow from Grand Rapids to Big Rapids then clear the rest of the way.  Winds were high but the Mackinaw Bridge was still open. We jumped in the car resolved to just patiently push through any of the barriers Michigan weather would put in our path.

We didn’t get far out of Grand Rapids before I started using this phrase, “What are we doing?”  This would be a question I would ask the entire trip. Ice covered roads, car-moving wind gusts, almost whiteout situations, and aggressive semi-trucks greeted the entire way to the Mackinaw Bridge. All this gave me reason to say, “What are we doing?”  With a heart of a mom wanting to see her kids, Janice would gently and optimistically respond, “It will all work out.”  

As we approached the Big Mac Bridge, one of my fears for the day became reality as an electronic sign read, “Bridge closed. Exit highway.” For eight hours, the bridge would be closed and thousands of people made the sleepy winter town of Mackinaw City a rest area for the day.  “What are we doing?” turned to “What do we do?”  Over those eight hours, I serious contemplated heading south to return home.  But, there was this look in my wife’s eye that said, “Please don’t let all this stop me from seeing my kids and grandbaby!”

We stuck it out and eventually the bridge opened and our journey continued.  Conditions on the bridge and roads north were horrible so we decided to spend the night at my sister’s house an hour away.  It had been a long day and we all needed some peace and rest.  Saturday would be a better day and our journey across the UP would be much less eventful.  As we neared Marquette, my chronic question got answered. I recalled all the occasions that I asked, “What are we doing?” Janice simply said, “It’s love. We do these things because we love our kids and we miss them so much that we’d almost anything to spend time with them.”  From the back seat, my daughter added, “Or, it’s dogged stubbornness.” 

Dogged, stubborn love motivated a family to push through deadly road conditions and brutal delays to be together.  If that’s true of an earthly mom and dad, how much more is this true of our Heavenly Father?  What would the dogged stubborn love of God our Father endure to be with his kids?  Check out these verses.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5.8

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3.16

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21.3-4

I wonder if God ever asked in his pursuit of us, “What am I doing?” If he did, then his dogged, stubborn love endured every possible barrier to be with us.

-Phil Niekerk 

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