I am currently in what some Portlandians are calling the snowpocalypse. It’s not really as bad as it sounds. But….I did just prep and write for speaking at a retreat in Cannon Beach, hopped a train and traveled from Washington into Oregon in the hopes of getting there. We traveled the tracks from a cold crisp day into a white flurry. As we got closer to Portland, I got word that the snow storm might indeed cancel the retreat. I could only laugh.
My friend Kate’s husband, Dave, picked my daughter and I up from the train station. As Bella and I walked into the old, cool downtown station looking for Dave, I couldn’t help but hear the words “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” The all too famous words from Proverbs 19:21.
I hugged Dave and belted out those words, as if to say, who knows what is in store this weekend and thanks for picking us up! Having no idea that I was about to hop in a 1990 Honda Accord that has nearly 300,000 miles and no seat belt. I prayed for my life as I watched Dave try to eek out of the train station into crazy traffic. because everybody and their brother was leaving work early to get home.
An hour later we had gone maybe 4 blocks. Portlandians, who I am jealous of, and want to be like, were frolicking in the snow, honking at each other losing their hipster patience, slipping and sliding, unable to climb hills, and yet still, there were those hardcore environmentalist, outdoorsy bikers acting as if that white stuff was No Big Thang.
During that ride home our windshield wipers decided to stop working due to ice chunks and Dave regularly had to get out and chip at them. We almost ran over a pit bull and a few cars came sliding toward us. We celebrated hitting 20 miles an hour since we averaging about 5.
In all this, I looked back at Bella, who must have been utterly bored in a car for standstill traffic because apparently she had found my makeup bag and must have decided to try her hand at painting. Painting her face.
A few hours later we made it to the Ahl home. The cheery yellow paint welcomed us with open arms and so did the spaghetti and meatballs and the bacon wrapped asparagus. We soon forgot about the pending storm for a moment to be, enjoy, and find gratitude for what is good and here. Then the weather channels woke us back up into the anxiety, the panic, the drama of what could be nothing that they want to make everything. We waited, we wondered, will we have to cancel this retreat? We watched. Every so often I would see Kate open the door to get an idea of the current status outside. As if looking again five minutes later will tell us more. It is that often glance we all take out the window when it snows that we hope tells us something. We would look up at the lampposts and spot for falling snow. We would read every weather report to see the varying opinions.
I was starting to feel sick with a sore throat that felt like knives were cutting me furiously. It was like they were mad at me and what did I do? I went to bed early for a night of their angry reminders. I woke in the morning to a furnace that stopped working and a state that decided to close. This was the snowpacolypse. They were right. Portlandians are always right. The world is shutting down. The retreat is cancelled. And here I am sitting in a living room hundreds of miles from home, drinking emergen C while the kids go in and out to build snow men, make snow angels and have royal snowball fights.
Snow stops people. I think snow is God’s way of letting us all know that we aren’t in control. We don’t make the world revolve. We aren’t in charge. And all our work, all our efforts, all our plans, they are not the boss. God is the boss. God is in charge. God is the One in whose plans prevail.
And this, these words from Proverbs, they are good for us to remember. Sometimes we just go about life on autopilot. I’m gonna do this and then I’m gonna do that. I am going to this town and then that town. I am going to go to college and then work at Microsoft. I am going to get married to this guy after we date for this long. I am going to have a baby. I am going to go on this trip next spring break. I am going to take a train and go do X, Y or Z. We hold false power. We are duped to think that we have as much control as we act like we have. The snow really is God’s reminder. You can’t even make a furnace restart when it breaks down. You can’t even clear a highway to make a retreat happen. You can’t even protect yourself from an accident and with no seat belt, you are at My whim. You can’t even take away a sore throat.
This snow reminds me, what I will remind you, many are my plans and many are yours, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Always know that if our plans change, fall through or are scratched, God has a purpose. And His purpose is always better than any plan we could ever devise. As we travel life’s tracks we have to sit and wait, watch and listen as we live trusting in God’s purpose.