Having lived on a dirt road most of my life, I know what it means to get stuck in a rut. A rut can be a simple little groove in the road that is easy to steer your way out of, but a rut can also mean a deep pit of mud that pulls you down until you are hopelessly stuck. I learned how to drive on those dirt roads out in the boondocks of Vermont. In that monsterous green station wagon and giant Ford van, I made my way around the roads lined with dense forests with wildlife peering fearfully out from behind the trees.
Driving year round was always an adventure, with the five seasons constantly bringing about a new development. Five seasons, you ask? Yes! Listed in order there is summer, fall, winter, mud season, and spring.
Here is a little sample of the hazards that each season can bring with it: first comes summer. Summertime can range anywhere from June to the end of August. The grader often comes twice a year, once in spring after the mud season is over and then at the end of summer. Between those times comes the great cloud of dust. This dust settles over all the foliage just beyond the deep gullies that line both sides of the road. The drifting cloud of dust can be seen hovering over its hidden object inside, otherwise known as the car. The victim inside the car has to make sure his windows are all sealed tight or else he will be doubled over in a fit of coughing as the choking dust claims all the breathable air. This horrid cloud of dust also hides the little pits dotting the entire length of the road. These pits, called potholes, can sometimes be deceivingly deep and if the dust has not scared the drivers away, then the loud thud of the car hitting the road as it returns from being airborn will certainly jar some common sense into the head of the driver and make him turn around and find safer ground.
After summer comes Fall. A beautiful time of the year when the glorious landscape is lit up with bright colors of reds, oranges, and yellows. This is the easiest season of the year to drive on a dirt road, which tourists often find inviting as they drive peaceably along. People who actually have to work and get there on time find these slower-than-snail-leaf-peepers a little annoying. To top it off, there are the big trucks, with gun racks on the back and men with bright orange caps on their heads, slowly poking along the road in hopes of finding that big buck they had seen grazing off the side of the road during the summer. Really now, what are they thinking? That the deer will actually stand there and wait for them as they leap out of a moving vehicle, and shoot their prey without actually having to work for it?
Once the dust clears from the endless creepers of Autumn, then comes the cold weather. That means snow and lots of it too. The snow is not so bad. What is horrible is the coating of ice that hides underneath all that snow! The heavy snow fills the ditches on each side of the road and makes it look very safe to drive on. I remember watching an unsuspecting victim get pulled into the deep pit without having any idea it was even there.
There was that time when I was driving along in our huge blue van and I hit a rut that was hidden under the snow. I yanked the wheel to pull myself out of the groove, hit a patch of ice, and soon found myself becoming food for the gaping mouth of the gully monster. To add insult to injury, a small tree took the side mirror off the van. Needless to say, it was not a good day for me at my house.
During January, there might be a thaw which gives all the residents living along the dirt road, a little breather. But along with the thaw comes mud. Each tire makes the road a little softer as the frost underneath melts and little tire lines soon become deeper indents along the road. The road is no longer dirt, but slurpy, sloppy mud. Then the big freeze returns. These endless pits become hard as a rock and not only are you sent on a ride for your life, but the bottom of your car can get pretty scratched up from the peaks of these ruts scraping your lovely paint job. A few mufflers have fallen off in the process too. Adventure never looked so good, eh?
Then comes mud season - the thaw returns, this time without the fear of having the ground freeze up again. The promise of spring is in the air, but nobody on the ground can reach hight enough for it simply because they are stuck in the black, vicious, merciless mud that sucks them down right to their boots. Where I come from, there were many different roads that I could choose to take back home, but in the end, I always had to travel down the one section close to home that was like death itself. The mud seemed to rise up above you and wash over your car with sticky little fingers that threatened to pull you in and never let you go.
Once the driver is safely in his driveway, he often is seen putting his head on the steering wheel as he regains his composure. The victory is always shortlived though because it is then that they realize they just have to do it all over again once they get up in the morning.
After mud season comes Spring. Here is when the washboard becomes another hazard along the way - long sections of bumpy road that made you feel like you were in a washing machine, bouncing up and down for what seemed like eternity. It was there that you always swallowed your gum if you were brave enough to be chewing it under such circumstances. To top it off, there is still mud lurking here and there until the grader comes and smooths out the road, leaving huge rocks all along the way.
I know this may sound extreme, but this is exactly the way it was when I was growing up. I do not miss that mud or the ruts that never seemed to go away. Yet, I find myself stuck in a new rut at times and it is just as hard to pull myself out of the rut of life. When I do not know where to turn or how to pull myself out, I turn to the One Who created me and life itself. I cannot trust in my own driving to get me out because I need to give the Lord the wheel so He can steer me through the mudseasons of life. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. He is in control of my life. He knows all that lies ahead along the path of life and I cannot change it. I can pray and ask Him to help me along this bumpy road. Every morning when I get up I need to ask Him for strength to take me along this road, the one I have driven down every day for 36 years. He knows the potholes ahead; He knows where the pits of mud are to pull me down; He knows the ditches that dangerously line either side of the road...yet I trust in His capable hands to guide me along, to take me where He wants me to go, and lean on His wisdom and not my own. He will help me through each day and give me strength to deal with whatever comes my way. And someday, when I see the promise of heaven come to reality, I will be victorious in having driven that road one last time and I will never have to fight the vicious mud again.