When Going Backward Moves You Forward

             With windshield wipers flapping against a light drizzle, I waved goodbye to my sister, standing on the front porch of her home nestled in the woods of East Texas. We spent the afternoon catching up on our lives. I had stopped by on my way to a nearby retreat center where I would lead a corporate planning event.

            “The retreat center is only a few miles down this road,” her husband assured me. “A sign marks the path leading to the place.”

            Clutching directions and knowing my tendency to get lost, I reassured myself with famous last words, “Easy schmeasy. Turn right out of the driveway and the retreat center is only a hop, skip, and a jump away.”

            The drizzle became a driving rain that pounded my windshield, and the dusky sky turned pitch black. I forgot…no street lights in the country. Turning my wipers up a notch and slowing the car, I strained to see the lodge’s sign through the rain. Nothing.

            I reached a dead end where you turn right or left. “Then, you’ve gone too far,” my brother-in-law’s words echoed in my brain. I turned around and headed back, certain I would find the sign. Back and forth on the one-lane country road I went—three times.

            Nearing time for me to kick off the planning meeting, I was not too proud to ask for directions. I saw a house set far back off the road but with lights on and turned up their driveway. In the dark and half way to help, I realized their driveway wasn’t paved. Too late. Wheels bogged down in the muddy mess and spun in place.

            My eyes welled with tears, and I choked back a sob, “God, Please help me.” I rocked the car back and forth for what seemed an eternity. Finally…traction. Turning around, I headed back toward the road and my sister’s house. I needed someone who knew these darkened, country lanes to guide me. Her husband offered, “No problem. Follow me. I’ll signal you where to turn.” 

            I learned a valuable lesson that evening. I’m a forward-looking person who likes to keep moving ahead. “Been there, done that,” is my mantra. However, my experience on a dark country lane driving in blinding rain reminded me that sometimes I’m charging down the wrong way. I must turn around and go backward to find my way forward again. Or, instead of going the wrong way, I get mired in ruts. Only rocking back and forth in place re-establishes traction for forward motion. And always, I can’t go it alone. I need to back up and turn toward the One who shows me the right road to my appointed destination. The One who says, “Follow me. Turn here.”

“But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13, NLT)

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About Gloria Ashby

I'm a writer, speaker and teacher. I live with my husband in the DFW area, and close to our daughter and her family.
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