That Middle Section

IMG_4111 - CopyI’m getting ready to visit my sister. She lives in the south, her house cradled by mountains. A lovely place to write my next blog, except…

“Don’t forget we have no internet,” she reminded me on the phone last week.

“Oh. Wow. Okay, I’ll use my phone, I guess.”winter mountains

“No cell service either. Sorry.”

“You mean I’ll have to use data, right?”

“Nope,” she said. “I mean no cell service. No data, no internet, no phone. And, by the way, we got rid of our land line. Too expensive.”

Had my sister moved to Mars?

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I said. “Wait, aren’t you talking to me on your cell phone now? From home?”

“It’s a cloudy day, so if I sit on my front porch before the trees leaf out, sometimes I have one bar.”

“Must be why this connection is so terrible. It sounds like there’s a hurricane at your end.”

“That’s not the connection,” she said. “The wind is blowing like crazy.”

I squinted into the phone. “And what’s that clicking noise?”

“Freezing rain pinging off my phone. Or it could be my teeth chattering.”

I imagined myself huddled on her front porch, bundled to the hilt, crouched over my phone and trying to type my blog with thick gloves.


I could write my blog ahead of time and schedule it to post next Monday, but I’d still need to check email and call my husband while I was visiting.

“Is there anywhere I can get on the internet?” I asked her.

“Well, sure, we’re not hicks in the sticks, you know. You can go into town.”

I bit my lip, remembering the last time I went “into town.” Driving my pickup along a dinky, icy one-lane road cut into a mountain. Oh, and with no guard rails.

Let me tell you—if you’re not a firm believer in prayer, don’t take that road. The beginning and end aren’t a problem, but that middle section is a different story. And, trust me on this, you don’t even want to start that drive without praying—big time.

Imagine meandering on a thin, blacktopped road. As you drive, you notice that, on onewest virginia road side, the mountain begins shooting straight up. And on the other side—you guessed it—the mountain drops down. Way, way down.

This, by the way, is a two-way road. Which means, while you’re navigating that middle section, you may encounter a vehicle coming the other way. And since we’re south of the Mason-Dixon line, way out in the country, no siree, that vehicle won’t be a Prius or a Kia.

 Everyone here drives pickup trucks. Big ones. With lift kits.

Of course, who am I to talk? I drive a pickup truck too. I live in Michigan—enough said.

So, what happens when two vehicles going in opposite directions meet in that middle section of the road?

Well, someone has to back up.

Along that middle section, the county provided a few outcrops on each side. Very few, since building a turnout spot with a steep mountain wall on one side and a steep mountain cliff on the other isn’t all that easy. And by outcrop, I don’t mean a ten-foot paved section. No, no, no—this is a four-foot-wide space just long enough for a vehicle to squeeze into. And the outcrops on the cliff side? You got it. No guard rails.

Here’s the rule. The driver heading out of town has the right-of-way. That’s because he has the cliff on his right while the driver heading into town has the mountain wall on his right. If the incoming driver encounters another vehicle, he must back up until he finds an outcrop and maneuver his vehicle snugly against the mountain, allowing enough IMG_4292room for the other vehicle to squeak by, often with its wheels on the edge of the road.

And, since both of those scenarios scare the pants off me, I’d pray like crazy that I won’t meet another vehicle. And my big God would answer with a resounding “Yes!” and I’d travel that road without seeing another vehicle.

Except for that one time…

On the way home from town, I turned onto that road. I thought I’d prayed, but I was babbling away with my sister. Maybe I forgot.

Anyway, in that middle section, I came face-to-face with an oncoming vehicle, who stopped about thirty feet away.

I braked and gawked at my sister. “Oh, no! What do I do?”

“He’ll back up,” she said in a calm voice. Nothing fazes my sister—ever.

I gave my horn a gentle tap, but still he idled without moving.

Oh-oh. He didn’t know the rule.

I turned to my sister. “Now what?”

I had always wondered why, if the incoming driver pulls off the road to allow the outgoing driver to pass, the county had bothered to put outcrops on the cliff side of the road. And I found out why—for the people who don’t know the rule.

I beeped my horn again, this time not so politely. “Come on, Dorkball. Back up!”

“That’s not very nice. He’s probably not from around here,” my sister said. Not only does nothing faze her, but she never says anything bad about anyone.

She pointed to an outcrop twenty feet ahead, on my side of the road. “Pull in there.”

“But, but…”

I might have forgotten to pray before, but I definitely did not forget now. “Help, Lord, oh my gosh, don’t let us die.”

With my vehicle crawling along at one mile-per-hour, I eased into the outcrop while my sister hung her head out the passenger-side window and directed me.

“I’m too close—we’re going to go over!” I yelled, terrified.

“You have plenty of room, like five inches.”

I braked and sat shaking while the other vehicle passed. When I finally pulled back onto the road, I took a quavering breath. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so afraid.”

“Think of this way—it’s good for your faith to face scary stuff once in a while.”

I scowled at her. But later, when I thought about it, I decided that maybe she caution signhad a point.

True, God had strengthened my trust in him every time he got me through that road without meeting another driver. But life isn’t always a clear road, even for Christians. Sometimes, we’re going to meet oncoming vehicles in a middle section, driven by people who don’t know the rules. And when our big God sees us through those cliff-hovering experiences, we learn to rely more and more on him.

And build our confidence solely in him.

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. (Psalm 27:3 NIV)




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