The other day I had to mail some things at the Post Office.
It was the middle of a blizzard. We had over 4 feet of snow in over 100 hours of continuous snowfall during the past four days. Today started out sunny and cold, but now it's snowing again. We are supposed to have more snow tomorrow and a "real" blizzard on Monday.
Another year that I forgot to move out of New York.
The autumns here are so breathtakingly beautiful... you get all taken up in the leaves, the apples, the pumpkins, the slanted sunshine and the crisp air after a humid summer, and then winter catches you off-guard somehow. Actually, I really enjoy snow in December. It's January, February, March and April when I don't so much appreciate it.
But back to my trip to the Post Office. It was, of course, snowing, and the roads were slippery, the air blurry with snowflakes, and the sidewalks icy. I was in a hurry. I pulled into a parking spot at the Post Office, not a very good one, because I didn't want to wait for someone to back out of one of those. Figuring I was safer out on the fringes anyway, I parked about twenty yards away and tucked my scarf tightly around my neck before I got out of the car.
I always run when it is cold. I just do. Running minimizes the time you spend in the coldness. Sometimes I remember that I am in my mid-forties and try to start out walking, but the chill always gets the better of me, and in the end I sprint. DJ walks nonchalantly behind me, when he is with me, and once he told me, "I count how long it takes you to break into a run, and I try to guess ahead of time which number it will be."
So, there at the Post Office, under the overhang, along the icy sidewalk at the Bayberry Strip Mall, I jogged toward the blue mailboxes.
I was wearing my fake Ugg boots from WalMart. They are warm, and I don't need to fasten anything in order to wear them. However, they have wide, flat bottoms with no traction.
After dumping my mail into the mailbox, I triumphantly turned to sprint back to my van. And I skidded, sliding on the icy surface.
I did not fall, by a miracle of God. It was just a small slip, just enough to remind me of my fallibility. I kept running, because it was so cold, but I ran more carefully, with less abandon. And as I did, I thought of the cold, hard, pavement below me, covered in snow, ice, water and salt. I could almost taste it, that pavement, and the blood that would have been in my mouth had I fallen and broken out my front teeth and cut my lips.
The accident did not happen, but in my mind I lived it so vividly that my heart raced and I thanked God as I got into my van and fastened my seatbelt.
I thought what a big change it would have been, how one minute I would have been whole and reasonably healthy and pain-free, and the next minute I would have been bloody and broken, and in need of a dental bridge. In only an instant so many things can change.
Life is like that. We live our lives, going about our business and just thinking about the next thing, when suddenly something can happen, something we don't know will change us forever, but afterwards, we realize that it has.
Do you ever notice how so often the things that change us the most didn't seem that significant until afterwards?
You never know what will come of a book you page through at the library, a person you meet, an email you receive, a drive to the country. Sometimes results are not at all what we were hoping, and other times, results are so amazing we could never have dreamed them up if we tried. Sometimes nothing happens, and we are thankful for that.
God knows it all. God has it all planned in advance. That just blows my mind. There is not one thing that has ever happened to any of us that God did not orchestrate to fulfill His purposes. God knows on what count of DJ's I will break into a run, even if I do not know it myself. God knows every conversation we will have, every thought we will think, every action that will follow each thought.
God was there on the icy sidewalk outside the Post Office when I slipped and did not fall.
"If the Lord delights in a man's way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand." Psalm 37:23-24
I hope the Lord delights in my way. Oh, how I hope that. I don't generally feel as though He would. Usually I feel as though He has a lot of work to do disciplining me to get me going the way He desires for me. But maybe the other day was a kindness from Him to encourage me.