Life’s a lot like a road trip.
It’s got straight stretches of road on which everything seems pretty normal. You can set the cruise and almost forget you’re driving. It’s got other places that come at you fast, curve in and out, and dip up and down leaving you gripping the wheel with two sets of white knuckles. It has bridges that require faith but reward you with breathtaking views as you cross them.
And then there are the tunnels.
On a recent road trip through the mountains of Virginia, my wife and I entered one such tunnel that took us deep under a mountain. As we cruised along, trying not to get dizzy in the dark as the walls rushed past or to think about the thousands of tons of rock hovering above us, she shared that she loves tunnels.
What’s So Great about Tunnels?
After a raised eyebrow from me, she explained that she really just loved not knowing what she would find on the other side.
I had to admit she had a point. Sometimes it can be sunny on one side and snowing on the other. Sometimes clear roads on one and congested traffic at the other end. Green trees on one and barren brown on the other. One thing is certain: you just can’t know with certainty what’s at the end of the tunnel when you’re still going through the tunnel.
But you can’t stop. Well, you could. But it’s dangerous – both for you and all those around you. And there are no U-turns in tunnels. I have yet to see one with optional turnarounds for those who chicken out halfway through. Once you’re in, the only option is to keep moving forward and trust that the road will eventually emerge one the other side.
Why We Need Life-Tunnels
Life has tunnels, too. Often God takes us through them for the same reasons road builders make them – to get us to someplace faster than we otherwise could have gone. That doesn’t mean we like them. But God uses adversity as a catalyst for greater growth. When we’re in those life-tunnels, we can feel as if we’re in the dark. We can sense the weight of everything that is riding on the outcome. They can test our faith as we wait to see what’s next.
We find ourselves in one of those tunnels now as I shift career gears and head into ministry full-speed. Our pending move to Atlanta is exciting and full of possibilities — yet also unknown and completely unpredictable. Sometimes I want to slam on the brakes, flick on the hazards, and dash for the nearest emergency exit. Knowing my luck, I’d trip on the way and get squashed beneath an 18-wheeler.
Maybe you recognize some of these life-tunnels God takes us through:
- Early childhood parenting. Man, can it get dark and dizzying at times through those days!
- Our college years. The uncertainty of what to do next can paralyze us.
- The first six months of marriage. Right about then we realize why everyone warned that the honeymoon would –a t some point – be over.
- A prolonged illness with an unclear diagnosis. My baby sister is living that right now as doctors shrug and try to look as if they know what they’re doing.
- A blended family trying to get up on it’s feet and make something new out of what had been previously broken.
You can likely think of more. Life tunnels are seasons in which we know change is coming, but we can’t really see the end. Not yet.
Why Courage Is Needed
Truth be told, sometimes we want it all to come to a complete stop. Or make a U-turn. But it ain’t happening. Not without a lot of people getting hurt in a traffic pile-up scene worthy of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.
Tunnels require courage. At the recent Catalyst Atlanta event, I heard Bryan Stevenson say that he did not pray for our comfort or convenience, but for our courage. I don’t know about you, but I could use that prayer.
Sometimes the most courageous thing we can do in life when God takes us through tunnels is to just keep moving. To those outside the tunnel, it doesn’t sound like much to simply stay the course. But the rest of us get it.
Pressing through the fear, pushing through the darkness and uncertainty is the only — and quickest — way out. It’s also the safest. Most wouldn’t think so. But most aren’t driving – or walking – by faith in the One who created the mountain, designed the tunnel, and empowered you to make the trip.
Guess it’s a good thing we are, huh?
What life-tunnels has God brought you through and what wisdom have you learned from them? Share your story with a comment to help us all walk – or drive – with more abundant faith today.