This particular ‘AdVanture’ has been wonderful, one high after another. I call it AdVanture because I am in a VAN as I travel Australia. The joy of soaking in each new scene and experience. Sure, there has been challenges and problems to solve, but it is all part of the adventure, right?
And then it came to today. I get to Kakadu and everything is closed. I literally came to the end of the road and could go no further. It is the wet season after all, but then all you read says that Kakadu is beautiful in the wet season. It is when the waterfalls are the most amazing, but of course there is the risk that you can’t get to them, and today was the day. It was raining, floods everywhere, mud and swamp as far as the eye can see. There are crocodiles in every river and you can sense the danger everywhere. Of course, even when you are semi-prepared for it, it is a shock when they say, “no, you cannot go there”. Up until now, I have found a way around, or through, but not today.
So, what do you do when your plans are halted? When you are somewhere like Kakadu and you really feel like you are in the middle of no-where, because you are. I was at the “Top End” as they call it, with nowhere to go but back from whence I came. I was faced with a few choices. It is late in the afternoon, so to travel back to civilisation would be unwise. I clearly needed to find a place to bunker down, take stock of the situation and consider what tomorrow could look like.
Now I know that this is not all that desperate. Many would kill to be in this position; stuck in Kakadu with nothing to do. I have the motorhome and all the supplies I need and it didn't take long to find a campsite that would allow me to stay safely for the night. It even had a pool where I could safely swim away from crocodiles. So, this is not a tragic story by any means. But for some reason today, it really got to me. I was a little shaken and put out.
I sat and listened to the birds fly past me, felt the squishy wet mud under my feet, in an unkept BBQ area. Because the season has not quite opened so much of the campsite looks abandoned and messy.
I found this experience took me by surprise and it triggered many feelings of how life can often feel like this. You know those times when you are sailing along the adventure of life and loving the experiences and then something happens and it is enough to stop you in your tracks and knock you for ‘six.’ Sometimes it can be as simple as an email or text from someone that breaks your heart. Other times it is a major loss or unexpected turn of events that you have no control over. Sometimes you can see them coming and they still take you by surprise.
When it happens, what do you do? I know sometimes I simply can’t control myself and I find myself crying. I feel anxious, I feel fear and panic, I feel deep disappointment and sometimes I can even act like a right spoilt brat. Today I felt all these emotions and they were overwhelming. In the midst of being surrounded by flood waters, you could say the flood banks literally broke in my heart.
It is here when you have choices to make. It is always good to stop, pause, breathe and sometimes simply sit in the space and consider what is really going on for you. A friend asked me when I was feeling like this, “Sounds like you are lost, what do you do when you are lost?”
It’s a good question for when you are lost ‘physically’ or ‘emotionally’ or any other “ally”. At any given time there are a multitude of responses, some good and some not so good.
I walked, cried, journaled, cried some more, listened to worship music, cried again, texted some friends and was so thankful for their kind words or love and encouragement that came right when I needed it.
“The minute I said “I’m slipping, I’m falling, your love, God, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up… God became my hideout, God was my high mountain retreat” Psalm 94:19-22 MSG
“And not a tear is wasted. In time, you’ll understand. I’m painting beauty with the ashes. Your life is in my hands. So, when you are on your knees and answers seem so far away, you’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held.” (Just Be held - Casting Crowns)
As the sun sets, the stars come out, the sound of frogs fill the air, even a dingo ran past my table. I know that tomorrow will come. I dried my eyes and headed back to the van. With eyes red raw and a splitting headache, I know it is time to rest, be kind to myself till the morning opens up new options that I don't have to ponder tonight. Tomorrow will come soon enough.
Tonight I sit in the safety of this space and know that I will be “okay”. Tomorrow will not be as I would like, it will not be as my plans were hoping. If I can find a way to see the gift of tomorrow for what it is, it might just help me see beyond what right now seems dark and impossible.
If it is the end of this road, can I be open to another path, another adventure, and new plan? Can you when you find yourself in these spaces?
As I leave the top end of Australia and begin the long trek back toward home, I can’t help but wonder, have I been brought to this place for this revelation, for a living metaphor! I think God does that for us at times. Sometimes He brings us to the dessert places, the flooded roads that cause dead ends, to help us in these safe places to learn what we need to, if we are listening. He wants to prepare us for the literal life dessert and dead ends we will have to face along life’s adventure
He promises to never change and to sustain us wherever we find ourselves. I thank Him for feeling HELD tonight, for His hiding place and mountain retreat. I thank Him in advance that I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know I will not be alone. I know it is not comfortable, not easy, and I don’t like it, but it is inevitable, so it is comforting to know that somehow through it all I will be “okay”.