Fresh-fallen snow blanketed the range of mountains on the northeast rim of the Los Angeles basin. When I caught my first glimpse of it in the distance, I found myself smiling and saying aloud, "Beautiful!" Seventy-five miles away, it was beautiful. Up close, well, that was an entirely different matter.
About the time we reached 4,500 feet, narrow Highway 18 began to gather white dust. The temperature was right at freezing, the clouds were thick, and the wind had picked up considerably. I could have turned back then—and should have—but we were only 15 or so minutes from our destination. So we pressed on.
The freak storm, however, made it increasingly obvious that things weren't going to get better, so we decided to cut short our visit. By now the wind was howling and the snow was swirling across the asphalt. Disappointed, we began a journey we shall never forget. And for the next several miles a brief conversation haunted me. It had occurred before we left:
"Shouldn't we buy tire chains?" she asked.
"Naw, this won't be any problem," he answered.
"Are you sure? It's downhill all the way back," she reminded him.
"Don't worry, hon. We'll be outa this in no time," he said.
An hour and a half—which seemed more like a decade—later, we reached San Bernardino. Between 6,000 feet and sea level, only the Lord knows for sure what happened.
There was no sin—mortal or venial, thought, word, or deed—I didn't confess. No prayer I didn't use. No verse I didn't claim. You know how folks say that when you are drowning your entire life passes before your eyes? Well, I can assure you the same is true as you fishtail your way down a glazed, winding, narrow, two-lane mountain highway.
Now there's a lesson I will think of every time I see any beautiful snow-capped mountain range. It may seem beautiful from a distance, but when you get real close, the scene is entirely different. It's a lot like life. Behind that beauty are bitter cold, screaming winds, blinding snow, icy roads, raw fear, and indescribable dangers. Distance feeds fantasy.
But the comforting fact is that as we journey through life, we have a Guide who knows all about those places. He knows our way, and He will get us through.
The Lord is our spiritual road atlas. When we rely on Him, we'll never get lost.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.