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The Sacred Ordinary: Embracing the Holy in the Everyday

(Revell Books)

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Stranded, Stuck, or Delayed?

By Leigh McLeroy –A trip to the Texas hill country for rest and relaxation coincided with the season’s heaviest rains, and so for almost thirty-six hours, I was stranded in my retreat hideaway. I stayed in a small house on a high bluff with no telephone, no television, and no radio—a place aptly and affectionately called “The Quiet House.” When the river nearby became swift enough for me to hear its rushing over the thunder, and the lights flickered off for the sixth or seventh time, I did something I’d never done before when staying there: I picked up the radio handset, turned it on, and said “Hello . . . anybody there?”

The radio crackled and the camp foreman answered quickly. “Glad you called. We were getting worried about you. The river’s closed, and more storms are coming in. Are you safe and dry?” I assured him that I was.

The river was the Frio, and in this beautiful place it juts through a deep canyon and along a limestone bottom, usually covered by six to eight inches of water. In fact, the day I arrived I drove through the riverbed to the camp office to check in. Now it was running over five feet deep.

I was stranded, but I was safe. And although I couldn’t leave—I hadn’t planned to for another day anyway. So I lit the house’s oil lamps, set dry wood in the fireplace, and climbed up into the loft to listen to the river and the rain. Up in the loft, settled into deep, soft cushions and feeling quite content, I saw a squirrel that was more stuck than stranded just a few feet away on the other side of the window. He clung upside down under the eaves of the house, with water coming off the roof in a torrent. It was as if he was under a miniature waterfall twenty feet off the ground and hanging on for dear life. His tiny feet were clamped vise-like to a wet, wooden beam and his drenched tail was too wet to twitch.

Sometimes life strands us. Sometimes it leaves us hopelessly stuck. Sometimes, like Tom Hanks’s delightful character Viktor Navorsky in The Terminal, we are “delayed.” Viktor was detained in a fictional New York City airport because, while en route to that city, his small Eastern European country was overtaken in a coup. Once he landed, Viktor held a passport to a country that no longer existed—and governmental red tape prevented his leaving until those matters were satisfactorily resolved. As a result, he lived in the airport terminal for many days, existing on food court scraps and the kindness of baggage handlers, custodians, and one very pretty flight attendant. He wanted to leave, but he could not.

How we view those moments or hours or days that we are stuck, stranded, or delayed can make all the difference in the world. I was stranded, yes. But stranded in comfort and quite content to stay put. My furry friend was stuck and clinging to wet wood for life. Viktor was delayed, and he longed to leave—but made the best of each day he was forced to spend in the terminal.

Whether we are able to see it or not, God is with us in our tight spots. Are you stuck, stranded, or delayed?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. . . . The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. -- Psalm 46:1–3, 11

If the choice were left to us, none of us would elect to be stuck, stranded, or delayed. But sometimes we are. If that describes your situation today, surrender your rights. Submit to God’s timetable. And remember that rains, floods, and even governmental red tape are not beyond his notice—or his authority.


Excerpted from The Sacred Ordinary: Embracing the Holy in the Everyday, © 2008 by Leigh McLeroy. Published by Revell Books. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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