Artist’s Lane: Trusting the unexpected


By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

There is an expression that I have used many times when facing a trial or difficulty: where the rubber meets the road. It’s a phrase that is perfect in describing when our faith has been tested. Those are the times when we need to gear down and hold on to God with all we have. 

I taught art lessons in the San Luis Valley in the mid-’80s. Each week, I would take a trip over the pass to meet with my awaiting students. 

One day before my 40th birthday, an early snow blanketed the Cumbres Pass with little to no warning. While en route to my class, I hit a patch of snow and lost control of my car. Within a split second, I found myself airborne as I flew off the side of the road.

I’m not exactly sure what went through my mind at the time, but I’m certain it was something along the lines of, “It’s all over God, I’m in your hands.” 

As quickly as the calamity began, things came to an abrupt halt. I had slid off the side of a cliff and my car had come to rest on a barbed-wire fence. 

It was difficult to compose myself as I pushed through the clutter of art supplies that had been dispersed from the back to the front seat. But, somehow, I was able to regain my bearings and push the door open in order to crawl out of the car. 

My Monte Carlo was literally hanging in the balance between a few thin strands of steel wire. As it held, I clawed my way up the steep incline looking for anything that would give me a sure footing. 

As I neared the top, I saw a man standing in watch, shaking his head in complete disbelief. 

“Lady, you are lucky you are alive, that’s a mile drop.”

It wasn’t luck; it was a miracle. I couldn’t believe that my life had been saved by a mere fence that someone unknowingly put in my path. One that spared my life, else I would have certainly crashed into the bottom of the canyon below. 

Not long after, a tow truck pulled my car up from the side of the mountain. I knew my life had been spared for a reason. I didn’t know the why, only that God had specific plans for me. 

A different season, another harrowing moment would occur on a trip over Wolf Creek Pass. The car I was in was suddenly filled with the pungent smell of burning brakes. They had heated up as I progressed down the mountain switchbacks. Praying all the way, I somehow made it to the Treasure Falls parking area when my breaks failed. 

It feels like I could pen a book with the number of times when I was headed in one direction, only to find myself switch around in another. How many times have I needed to be stopped in my own tracks rather than to progress to a point of no return. 

I have been thinking a great deal about the fences and rest areas that God has put in my path over the years. I don’t think I could ever count how many times God needed to force me to a complete stop in order to get my attention for one reason or another. 

That time when I skidded off a road and plummeted to an unknown depth had little purpose in my mind. That time when I was forced to a complete stop because going any further would have harmed me is unfathomable. 

The irony of it all is that it wasn’t the full stop where I saw God. He was in the disruption. I just needed to experience both in order to recognize the one who was trying to get my attention.

Final brushstroke: There is something so important that we need to learn about tomorrow, but first we have to trust the detours God has lined up today. We don’t expect or even desire them, but learning to trust who stops us could hold greater meaning regarding the direction he wants to take us. 

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