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Stop-lights remind us of his guiding presence

By DAVID WHITLOCK

Life Matters

The sound of the wiper blades — swish, swish, swish — is the only music in my car. Stopped at the red light on the way to my office, I anxiously wait to get warm, enveloped in the pre-dawn darkness.

Ramping up the thermostat on my heater, I stare at the flashing lights’ reflection on the wet pavement in front of me. The wiper blades’ steady rhythm induces a hypnotic trance.

I think, “What a year it was, and last year’s fingers seem like they want to grip the new one as well.”

You’ve felt it too. Everything is new when the calendar changes to January 1, but everything still remains the same.

My buoyant memories of one son’s wedding are tethered by the grief of another son’s untimely death. An image of my granddaughter’s face smeared with my daughter’s mascara brings a smile that’s tinged with the sad awareness that my own mom is no longer able to process her thoughts into words. Warm memories of holidays long ago are blunted with the startling news that my oldest brother’s cancer has returned, this time, it seems with a vengeance.

New year or old, life’s ups and downs stream into a river where time flows into one sweeping current; it rolls on, relentlessly, steadily with no exceptions to its rule.

Somehow, in ways I usually don’t know, hope manages to find its way into this matrix. This hope is an assurance that issues in faith, a faith supported by a promise: “I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.

“When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown,” (Isaiah 42:1-2).

The red light changes to green. And later, perhaps mid-morning, the sun peeks through the clouds. I crack open my office window and catch a whiff of — spring?

I open the window wider and yes, it’s there, at least for the moment. I know Kentucky’s fickle weather; winter will most definitely return. But for now, in the first month of a new year that has a penchant for putting on shabby clothes that reek of past hurts, pains and disappointments; I look through the pouring rain, the messy sludge and the winter blasts, and I desperately grasp for my only hope, the hand of the one, the savior Jesus Christ, whose promise has never failed me, for he has never left me, nor forsaken me. Now in this moment, I can only trust him to lead me into a new season of restoration. I have no other choice.

Stop-lights give way to go lights that are invariably interrupted by more stop-lights. But it’s in those stops that I’m reminded of his presence. Yes, he is there in the swish, swish, swish of the wiper blades; in the morning darkness, where the troublesome questions remain unanswered, and the deep mysteries unresolved.