My daddy loved road trips and impromptu adventures. I remember day trips to the beach or to go tobogganing on Mt. Hood's snow covered slopes. Camping and fishing trips were frequent, too, as were drives to visit this or that cousin or shirttail relative. One of my fondest memories of these outings was driving back home in the dark. This was before seat belt laws or carseats, so I remember lying down in the back of the station wagon and drowsily watching the moon and stars in the black velvet sky as we drove down some winding back road toward home.
Daddy had mentioned on several occasions that he'd never been in a car accident, and at that time in my life I'd never been in one either. I felt perfectly safe and impervious to such dangers. My daddy was in control. I was blissfully ignorant of the turn of events to come, of the day when daddy would sit us down and tell us he was leaving mama. All that I knew in those moments was the warmth of the car, the feeling of contentment and safety, the brilliance of the stars and the moon shining down on me, and the feeling that I was protected from the darkness that was out there beyond the cocoon of our old station wagon.
Before too many years had passed, Daddy moved out, and I never again trusted in him like I did back when I believed he would always be there to protect me from anything bad. A few years after that, Mama was driving when we were in our first fender bender and I became a nervous passenger ever after. That little girl who laid in the back of the station wagon feeling perfectly safe seemed long gone.
In the decades since those long ago car rides, some of my suspicions and fears have proved true. For instance, you can be a perfectly safe and capable driver, and still be in a car accident. I also know now that you can't trust another human being to always be there for you, to always protect you from the darkness. These have not been lessons learned without scars. Yet, I don't say these things with fear or bitterness. In and through all of my life's dark nights of the soul, I have found the One Who is Faithful and True, the One I can always count on to be there for me and to never leave me or forsake me. I have found the One Who illumines the darkness, Who is as sure and comforting to me in the times of darkness as a glowing lamp and a crackling fireplace on a stormy night. I have found the one Who is a cocoon round about me, Who keeps my spirit safe from the darkness. I haven't liked a single one of the difficulties that have taught me these things, yet to know these truths with an unshakeable certainty has proven invaluable and worth it all. I can say with the Apostle Paul, "I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed to Him against that day..." or even against the darkness of night.