Stopped by Trains

A couple of weeks ago, we were rushing to an evening basketball game. Unfortunately, the game was about 40 minutes away and we were still in the tail end of rush hour. Feeling pressed for time, we took off as the GPS jinxed us by saying, “Without unexpected traffic or delays, you should arrive at your destination at 6:55.” Perfect! Five minutes before we needed to be there for the pregame warm-up. Traffic moved along and we found ourselves at the first of two train crossings, just in time for a nice long train to stop us. train crossingWe waited semi-patiently as it seemed to crawl by. We made it through the crossing and around a corner to find ourselves stopped by a guy in a pickup truck who was readjusting his cargo in the back end, right in the middle of the road. We joined in line, waiting for our opening to pass him, and got around him just in time to be stopped by a second, even slower train. Frustration mounting, our GPS shared with us that we would still get there by 7:10, with 20 minutes for warm up. Not ideal, but doable.

We continued down the road and as we passed a bike on a highway (what was he doing there?!) it sounded like he honked at us. Knowing that was likely impossible, we were puzzled. After another quarter of a mile, we realized it wasn’t the bike, but rather snippets of a tornado siren as we drove by it. We knew there was a chance for severe weather but we weren’t even under a tornado watch! I alternated between looking about frantically at the seemingly clear sky and trying to pull up radar on my phone. I finally gave up and called a friend who was likely to be at home. She said that everything looked clear on the news so we continued on. But a few minutes later, the sky got dark, tornadogreen and eerie at the same time that my friend called back that we were heading into a possible tornado. We immediately began looking for the next exit. The kids became increasingly more afraid and anxious as we watched other drivers pulling over to take pictures of the weird wall cloud and the electrical sparks from transformers blowing just ahead of us on the highway. My husband looked at the exit up ahead and spotted a sign for a local community college. We figured a college was more likely to have a protective basement so we headed there as the weather looked more and more ominous. He drove much more calmly than I would have, obeying all the traffic signals and signs. We pulled up to the closest building on college grounds and saw a lady talking to another vehicle outside. We asked if they had a basement and she said to come inside. We parked quickly and went inside, and as the security lady (on her first day) walked from room to room trying to find the right key to unlock the right door, the wind worsened outside. Finally she found a door that opened to her key and we found ourselves in a long hallway with a bunch of other people, mostly students from canceled classes. Looking around, I realized that there was no basement and we were standing in a wind tunnel of a hallway. I led us further in and found a place to sit the children down. The girls were fighting off tears and everyone was anxious.

Looking at the radar, we were right in the middle of the mess, and it was reforming, making the threat recurrent. After about a half hour, the security at the college requested that we relocate further in to the building.

We visited with one of the security staff to inquire about the status of the tornado and she told us not to worry. She informed us that we were locked into one of the only FEMA shelters in the area. The building we were in was built to withstand F5 tornadoes! Breathing a sigh of relief and protection, we reassured the kids that we were in the safest building in the whole town!

After a few minutes, a small voice piped up from our 10 year old daughter, “Mommy, maybe God had those trains stop us so we would make it to this safe building at just the right time. He stopped us from getting further toward the tornado.” Humbled and amazed by her faith and insight, I just hugged her.

Sometimes in life, we can be on our own path, rushing on track to get where we want at the time we want. We know where we are going and what we are doing. But then suddenly, our journey is stopped – sometimes by a giant train blocking our way – and we are slowed down, or maybe even rerouted, from going to where we want to go. Maybe we are even diverted two or three times before we get back on our perceived track. But what we consider as a frustration or annoyance, God may be using as a tool. Perhaps, He is redirecting us and keeping us safe from some bigger, more ominous storm in our path. He is allowing us to take shelter in his love and mercy at the exact time we need it. And what we may see as a serendipitous coincidence is actually part of God’s divine plan and will for our lives.

What trains are taking you off your path right now? How are the trains actually positioning you for God’s will for your life even better than you can imagine?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *