By Mark Azzara
This is the third letter in a row that deals with my granddaughter’s recent visit. And in some ways it’s perhaps the most important, at least to me.
When I heard she and a friend were coming to visit our family I volunteered to drive them home, to save them the expense of round-trip airfare. But soon after offering my help I began to regret what I’d said because it’s a 16-hour, 700-mile drive.
I prayed a lot as Monday’s departure approached because I’m not as young as I used to be and the older I get the longer the drive seems. I frequently have chosen to stop along the route and grab a motel room for the night, and I was afraid that this was what I might have to do this time, too, which would mean eating the cost of the girls’ room, too.
I spent time ahead of their visit praying for strength but also for deeper surrender so that I would know God’s will and grab those rooms rather than pretend to be a macho grampa who will make it in one day, come hell or high water.
I awoke on that Monday to heavy rains. I got soaked loading my car and soaked again when I picked up the two teens and loaded their gear into my car. I then drove through steady rain for the first hour, all the while praying that God’s will would be done.
Miraculously and unexpectedly (aren’t miracles are always unexpected?) the rest of the drive went smoothly and amazingly quick. Despite a later-than-planned departure and numerous highway rest stops, including more than an hour for dinner, I pulled in to my motel parking lot just before midnight, to transfer their stuff to my daughter’s car so she could bring them home for the night. Total time on the road: 15 hours and change, way faster than usual.
During that trip I never felt tired or achy, never felt rushed or pressured, never yearned to grab that motel room. I just kept going and going and going. And the longer I did the more I was convinced that God was carrying me throughout the entire trip – almost suspending the laws of the physical universe because I felt terrific the whole way.
God didn’t do this just so the girls wouldn’t have to spend multiple days on the road. He didn’t do it just so my granddaughter and her friend would be home in time to leave on a trip the next day to a camp for disabled kids where both of them had volunteered to serve.
Jesus did this to reassure me that he always listens to our prayers, and that when we absolutely have to have an answer, one will be provided. God’s timing usually isn’t anything like mine but this miracle came at a time when I needed it so that I would remember it over the next two weeks amid several trials where I found myself asking, “Where are you, God?”
By remembering God’s miracle on the road I got my answer. He’s right here, so I should relax, or ask for his grace to do so when I can’t. And because God got me through this one time of need I am reassured he will escort me through all the other trials that lie ahead.
All God’s blessings – Mark
Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, “And So Are You.” He is active in his church and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut.