My son can read a book in the car while it is moving!
He just sits there reading…while the car is moving!
Just looking at him doing this makes me feel ill as I am not a good traveller. I think it all stems back to family holidays as a child, wedged between my Mum and Auntie Doris on the back seat endlessly driving on long winding roads around Cumbria. Not knowing where we were going or how long it was going to take often made the sickness worse. Even now, the less control I have over the journey, the more the nausea kicks in. Lyndon regularly has to pull over the car so that I can drive. He ended up getting rid of his dream car because he never got to drive it. Just thinking about getting into that car makes me feel queasy!
I have regularly curled up in a ball on the passenger seat, with a coat over my head, shutting out all light and noise and focusing all my attention on the fact that the journey will end at some point. There may be some of you reading this that know just how this feels!
This is precisely what happened on a family holiday last year. To celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary, my lovely in-laws treated us all to a weeks cruise on P&O’s Brittania. Due to the timings, the plan was to travel down to Southampton (through the night) straight after the final concert of the week-long Yorkshire School of Christian Arts. I knew that I would be too tired to drive, so the plan was to leave the driving to Lyndon, get in the car and fall asleep as quickly as possible. After the second service station stop, I was wide awake and feeling dreadful. I assumed my usual position, curled up in the passenger seat with my coat pulled over my head and waited for it to end. I can’t explain the sense of relief I felt when we parked the car at Southampton docks. As we unloaded our things from the boot I watched in horror as the rest of the family started loading their luggage onto a coach. Coaches are my ultimate travel sickness nightmare. The journey must have been ten minutes at the most, merely taking us from the car park to the dockside, but it felt like a lifetime. By the time I got off the coach, I was grey. As the rest of the family looked in amazement and excitement at this giant cruise ship that would be our home for the next week, I just wanted to lie down in the dark and let my body catch up with the fact that we had reached our destination and the journey was over. It wasn’t until we settled into our room that the penny dropped that we were on a giant boat. The journey wasn’t over! I joined my travel sick mother-in-law in the fresh air of the deck and waited for the boat to leave the coast of England and find calmer waters.
As many of you will know, I have been waiting for a prayer to be answered for a long while now. This month it is exactly four years since we started off on a journey that we thought would last a few months at the most.
Our prayer was answered this week! After four long years, it’s finally over!
Lots of lovely people have messaged us to ask what we have done to celebrate this good news. I’ve felt quite guilty that, although I’ve thanked God for answered prayer, I’m not really in the mood for celebrating. I know that Lyndon feels the same way. While trying to explain my feelings over coffee at church this morning, I referred to the story in Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus calms the storm.
After a day of teaching, Jesus said to the disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” The only reason they were on the boat that day was because Jesus had specifically invited them. I have struggled through many storms in my life, but they were mainly as a result of ignoring God’s direction and boarding my own boat, often making journeys that were never mine to make. Each time God has patiently brought me back to dock to regroup, board a different boat and embark on a new voyage. This four-year voyage has been different. I got on this boat because that’s what I was asked to do. I was specifically invited to take this journey to the other side of the lake. Having learned my lesson the hard way I immediately boarded the boat, no questions asked.
The disciples got on the boat expecting a straightforward journey (much as I did) and then out of nowhere, a fierce storm crashed around them. Although I know that God has been with us throughout our storm, at times it has felt like He has been fast asleep at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Through utter frustration I have prayed the Kay Moorby equivalent of, “Don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” Just like the disciples, I have shouted at God, desperate for Him to wake up, calm the storm and just make it stop. I have questioned why He was letting it happen and why it seemed like it would never end.
The truth is that while the storm was still raging, I stopped shouting for Jesus to wake up. I would have been the disciple on the boat (who isn’t actually mentioned in Scripture but I hope existed) who curled up in a ball, covered his head with his robes and just waited for it to end. I’ve never lost faith that God is there, but I have seriously questioned why He waited so long to wake up and calm the waves.
Having reread this well-known story, I noticed that the disciples did not leap up in celebration once the waters were still. Jesus asked them why they were afraid and questioned whether they really trusted Him. It says that the disciples were “absolutely terrified”. Maybe they realised how little control they had over the storms of life and when they would hit. Maybe they recognised that the only one that could rescue them from the storm was Jesus. Either way, there doesn’t seem to have been much celebrating going on.
For me, the winds have only just stopped, and the sea has only just begun to still. As the boat docks, I am so grateful that this journey is over, but my knees are shaky, the nausea hasn’t settled down and I’m slightly nervous about the next leg of the trip and what it will entail. I’m not afraid, more apprehensive. I am thankful that this journey is over but it might take me a little while to get my footing again and for my mind to catch up with the reality that Jesus has calmed the storm and the waters, for now at least, are still.