Last week, I climbed in the passenger seat of our minivan and strapped in my seat belt as my 17-year-old daughter, Lydia, slid behind the wheel. Not normally one for thrill rides, I leave most student-driving lessons to my husband, Dana. But I was on a mission.
One month before, I’d ordered 50 lbs. of fresh-ground wheat and 20 lbs. of organic oats at Maine Grains, a traditional Skowhegan mill that grinds local grain between flat stones and sells it to restaurants and home bakers. Being confined at home these days, I fall in the latter category. So, since grocery stores have been low on baking supplies and Lydia needed driving hours, this seemed like the perfect solution.
Only, I’d never been to Skowhegan – one hour away, up the Interstate through Gardiner and along twisty Maine roads. So, I jotted down directions on a scrap of paper and off we went. After passing miles of scenic forests and lakes and camps we finally crossed the Kennebec River to the old brick town, with its one-way streets and quick turns.
“Slow down! Slow down!” I cried, not in terror, but because I couldn’t read the road signs.
Finally, I made Lydia pull off, and we switched places. Up one side of town and down the other, I inched, stopping at every intersection. But nothing matched my directions.
“How are we supposed to know which way to go?” I cried.
Then I read the blue-stenciled sign in the middle of the roadway. “Maine Grains,” it said, with an arrow pointing right.
“Oh, that’s how!” I laughed. The sign was right in front of me, but I’d nearly missed it.
Another couple of miles, and I parked behind the mill. After slipping on my homemade face mask and picking up my order, I steered us out of town, changing seats with Lydia at an empty motel. Then we were off toward home. By the time we’d reached the Interstate it was well past noon, and we were both starving.
“Gardiner/Brunswick/Interstate 295,” read the overhead sign as we neared an exit. Weren’t there two Gardiner exits? It had been so long since I’d driven south on the Interstate, I couldn’t remember.
“Keep going,” I said. “I think it’s the next one.”
At the tollbooth, I asked directions. Turned out we’d missed our exit and couldn’t turn around for another 16 miles. Once again, the sign had been right in front of me, but I hadn’t trusted it. In desperation, I texted my husband and asked for directions home. By the time we made it, we’d added nearly an hour to our drive.
Scripture says a lot about finding our way. One of my favorites is, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take,” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT).
In these confusing times, as we navigate uncertain roads with our work and health and families, we can squint at scraps of directions and rely on our faulty understanding, or we can trust God and ask him to guide us. Driving with my daughter reminded me to trust. Sometimes, like me, we need to reach the point of desperation and admit that we’re lost before asking for directions. But when we do, God promises to lead us home.
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of mid-coast Maine. She is also the author of the Lantern Hill Farm picture book series, celebrating the holidays in a way that builds children’s faith. Connect at www.meadowrue.com