I will never forget the excitement that coursed through my veins as I got behind the wheel of our Tempo that chilly, rainy night. At that time, my mom was the elementary principal at Jessieville Schools. She wore many hats, as most faculty of small school districts do. She was head of the cafeteria and Title 1 coordinator aside from her regular principal duties. She spent many of her nights with stacks of folders beside her, writing vigorously at our kitchen table. She also did small things, like work the door at basketball games and the gate at football games. My brother and sister had long since flown the coop, so it was just my dad, my mom and myself. The three of us enjoyed being together, and we worked to do that whenever possible. That’s why Dad and I and were making the forty mile drive from our house to the football field that night. We wanted to be with mom. I secretly wanted some nachos, too.
Dad asked me as we loaded up, “You wanna drive?”
“Sure.” (He was such a cool dad.)
I got in and buckled up. Dad might have been nervous about his youngest child being behind the wheel, but he never let on. Mom did, but then, mothers are more nervous by nature.
I merged onto I-30 with no problem. I took exit 111 toward Hot Springs. Then the Lonsdale cutoff…and then, the rain came! It poured and poured. The road became hidden behind the sheets of water that fell from that cold sky that autumn night. I couldn’t see. I was inexperienced – this was my first storm! Dad was right there, telling me it was okay, just slow down, but those words didn’t help too much. I gripped the steering wheel tightly, leaned forward and squinted – as though any of those actions gave me more control over the situation. I stared into the blackness ahead of me, willing myself to see. Cars approached from the other direction, but I didn’t see their lights until they were right in front of me! I thought about what might be in front of me: a broken down semi? A person stranded on the side of the road? All clear? I didn’t know – I could be about to have a terrible accident! Fear gripped me. I prayed. I’m pretty sure Dad was praying, too!
Finally, the storm let up. The rain slowed to a drizzle and all that remained of the storm were scattered leaves on the black pavement. By the time we pulled into the school parking lot, my pulse had returned to normal. And Dad looked very relieved to be able to stretch his legs. I was pumped! I had just successfully driven through a torrential downpour! Yes!
Dad and I made our way to the gate where mom was waiting with Mrs. Ballew, her companion in the ticket booth. Most of the crowds had made their way in, so I was able to chat with mom for a bit. I excitedly shared with her each minute detail of the drive over. When I finished, Mrs. Ballew said in her slow, southern way, “Next time, when you can’t see the road, just look at the white line.” I just smiled and filed her comment away in my brain. Then I got those nachos.
Months passed, and once again, I was making the forty mile drive out to Jessieville, only this time, I was alone. It started raining. Hard. I couldn’t see the road. But I remembered what Mrs. Ballew said: “Just look at the white line.” So, I did. I looked for the white line, followed it, prayed and drove slowly. And, I made it!
The intelligent people at the highway department have done more than just provide for us the shortest route possible to various destinations. They also care about our safety. That’s why they have placed those grooves along the sides of the Interstate. And, that’s also why the lines on the road are painted in reflective paint. That’s why we have the double yellow lines down the middle of the road, and white ones on the sides. They knew that one day, there would be an inexperienced sixteen year old driver making her way down a dark, slippery road on a rainy, foggy night. They knew she would be afraid when she couldn’t see the road. That’s why they put the lines on the road, so that all she had to do was look for the glowing white line and follow it, until the storm ceased and the fog cleared.
It’s been twenty years since I was that inexperienced driver. When I drive in storms today I still get a bit frightened, but now I know where to look for help. I’ve experienced other storms in life, too. Some really, really bad ones. I couldn’t see where the storm was taking me; the darkness hid my Father, the road curved and twisted…or had I gotten off the road? Was I in a ditch? Fear gripped me! Just then, I remembered to look at the white line; I remembered to go to His Word! My omniscient Father knew there would be a young, inexperienced wife and mother who would travel the road of life during a storm. He knew she wouldn’t know where to look for help. So, in His infinite wisdom, He placed promises, encouragement, hope, direction and love in a book. He illuminated that book with His Holy Spirit. His Word, the Bible, is the white line for life. It keeps me centered, focused and moving in the right direction, even in the darkest storms of life.