Thursday, July 21, 2005


Several years ago, Allison and I were camping and fishing without the kids. One evening we’d driven away from camp and were fishing a different river. About an hour before dark, we decided to head back so that we could enjoy the scenery along the winding road back to camp. We planned to go back by a different route than we used to get there, and almost immediately, I made a wrong turn. I didn’t realize it for about 10 miles or so, which in these roads was about 25 minutes, and then kicked myself for being so unmanly as to get us off course and behind schedule. Now I’m not a scheduled person, but I really wanted to make that wining drive at dusk.
I turned around, beating myself up and feeling stupid, and started back down the right road. About a half hour later, it was getting pretty dark, and we were still miles from the turn-off for the winding road. We drove up over a ridge and into blinding beauty. From everywhere else we’d been, the sun had long since been eclipsed by the towering hills. But when we went over the ridge it was sitting on top of the trees, casting beautiful colors up into the clouds and down over the mountains. I pulled the car over onto a wide spot and grabbed the camera with tears in my eyes and took a picture with the last frame on the roll of film. I’ve provided the pic here for you, but it isn’t very good because I snapped it so quickly, and by the time I’d re-loaded my camera the sun was gone.
All the way back, I couldn’t help think of how we’d have missed it if I had not gone the wrong way. I had wanted to drive that winding road at dusk, but there was something greater to be experienced. I know it’s a cheesy moral, but sometimes things don’t go as you plan, because there is a better plan yet to be discovered.
It happened to me again tonight. I rode my bike down to Hilton Head Island to visit my vacationing brother and sister-in-law this morning. The plan was to stay until supper time and ride home. Maybe I could miss the evening thunderstorms if I started back early enough. Lo and behold, we over-enjoyed the Queensland Chicken and Shrimp at Outback and I got a late start away from the island. I rode the 27 miles back to the interstate under beautiful twilight in partly cloudy skies. When I hit the interstate, suddenly there was lightning everywhere. All around me. I began to get nervous, but thought it might be moving out to sea, so I kept going. Not much choice anyway, as there were no exits. Finally, after about 20 minutes, I found an exit and pulled into a gas station where I found another shaken biker who’d been traveling the opposite direction. He asked me what I’d come through, and I asked him what I was headed into. Based on his report, I was adequately scared to reconsider my direction, so I turned around and headed back where I’d come from. I hit rain about 3 miles down the road and struggled back down the interstate. I took the Hilton Head exit in the pouring rain and when I turned onto route 278, still being drenched, I saw the glorious, thunder moon beginning to clear the low island trees, just below the storm clouds. I glanced over my shoulder at the terrifying lightning and then ahead at the peaceful rising moon.
As soon as I’d cleared the rain, I found a spot to pull over and take photos.
When I got back to the condo, my brother said, “you should have seen the moon as it rose up out of the water.” I agreed that that would have been beautiful, but it wouldn’t have been in the context I needed. I needed to see that thunder moon rising beneath the lightning and thunderclouds. I needed to see it looming large and colorful over the ocean, hovering over the deep. I needed to see it rising peaceful while I endured the pouring rain I was riding through. Context is everything, and if I’d not tried to ride home and changed my mind, I’d have never seen the thunder moon rising in the thunder.
Sometimes reminders must be in the context in which they mean. Jesus could have told his disciples that if ever they were in a storm, they needn’t worry because he had the power to calm the storm. But instead, like that moon rising up over the ocean horizon, he slept peacefully as they endured the storm and then rose up and spoke peace upon the waves.