Tuesday, October 11, 2011


“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” JESUS (Matthew 28:20)

I love West Virginia, and I always love going there, especially in the fall.  I have looked forward to it all 23 years of our marriage.  One of the many reasons I love it so much is that my sweet husband was born and raised there.  Much of his family still calls it home.  There is a great sense of solace that awaits me each and every time we pull into the drive of my mother and father-in-law’s home in the mountains.  They love and  welcome us, and it feels like coming home. 

I even love the trip there…trips have always been some of my favorite times.  In the car, without any interruptions, my sweet husband and I can really talk and connect and pour out our hearts to one another.  The depths of my soul have been emptied many times on road trips we have taken.  Now it is even sweeter, since our precious son is old enough to really contribute to this dialog. 

Our goal is to make it to West Virginia, safe and sound, by God’s grace.  The road is varied.  There are curves and straight places; hills and lowlands; valleys and mountains.  And then…..there are tunnels….two of them…big ones…hewn out of some very high, intimidating mountains.  I remember the very first time my sweet husband took me there.  Now, I am not the type of gal who enjoys being in tightly closed places…I don’t really enjoy elevators or closed-in spaces of any kind.  So, when I looked ahead and saw that we were completely surrounded by mountains, and the only way our car was going to make it any further on our trip was to go THROUGH the Big Walker Mountain Tunnel in front of us…..well, let’s just say I wasn’t overly joyful.  We couldn’t go around the mountains; there was no path.  We couldn’t fly over them; we were in a car.  So, we had two choices….turn around and retreat to where we came from OR go through the carefully hewn tunnel straight ahead.  Our goal was West Virginia, so we plodded onward.

I closed my eyes and braced myself as we drove straight ahead.  Visions of the tunnel collapsing and us never being found rushed through my head.  But on we trudged, and soon I saw the brightness of the overhead sky once again.  We were safe!  We had survived.  For 20 miles, we drove in blissful sunshine, until lo and behold, as I looked up ahead, my dread returned as I read “East River Mountain Tunnel”.  Another panic swept over me.  This tunnel ended up being longer than the first, and the unique thing is that when you start into it you are in Virginia.  When you reach the other side, you are in West Virginia.  I had a bit more courage the second time around, though I was still apprehensive.  We made it through, and over the years, we have gone in and out of those tunnels countless times.  Each time, we’ve driven all the way through and come out on the other side, by God’s mercy. 

Life is a lot like our trips to West Virginia.  Our goal is to make it to Heaven.  As we travel on life’s road, we come to places, from time to time, that appear to be impassable and impossible.  We look around and realize we cannot go around the situation, we cannot go under it, and we cannot fly over it.  If we want to progress, we are going to have to brace ourselves and go through it….head on.  Sometimes the passageway is narrow, dark, and foreboding.  We look at it, and we have two choices:  retreat or go through.

After passing through the Big Walker and East River Mountain Tunnels many times over the years, I have come to realize that there is light on the other side, and God has never let the walls around us collapse.  After passing through many of life’s mysterious “tunnels”, I have come to realize that God’s light shines even in the darkest places of life.  He wants us to go forward, so He has a tunnel prepared ahead of us.  When we reach it, all we have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and walk by faith in Him.

Come to find out, before the East River Mountain Tunnel was completed, travelers who wished to cross the state line from Virginia to West Virginia had to make a very perilous trek, without guardrails, to get to the other side.  When weather conditions were treacherous, sometimes that path was completely closed off, and it was impossible to pass over. 

Maybe God has “built” and carved out tunnels in our lives to protect us from something worse.  We sing a song that says, “…and in mercy His wisdom the flames may have sent, that my soul greater woe might be spared.”  In other words, maybe God dug out this passageway, because any other way around it would have caused us even greater woe.  He sees the future, and He knows our individual levels of endurance.  And He customizes our life’s pathway accordingly. 

There is a beginning and an end to both tunnels on our way to West Virginia.  There is a beginning and an end to every trial in our lives.  “This too shall pass”, no matter how hard it is today.  God’s light will shine…into the darkest, most hopeless corners of our hearts.  And one day, we will step out into the full sunshine again. 

So, take heart, my friend!  God is with you.  You may feel lonely, but you are never alone.  Just before Moses died, he spoke these comforting words to the children of Israel, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them:  for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”  Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV)  Don’t be afraid to step forward into the tunnel.  God is already there.  One day, you will see yet another tunnel in front of you.  And the unique thing will be, you will start into the tunnel on earth.  When you reach the other side, you will be in Heaven.

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