Dad was calm and direct, his voice trying to soothe through the phone, repeating a simple refrain that he hoped would ease my building hysteria.
"What do the signs say? Can you tell me where you are?"
I tried to shove down deep the wailing desperation, but it was clawing its way up my dry throat. It was getting darker. The fuel line was way below the E. The baby would be waking to nurse any minute. I was in a downtown maze of one way streets and no gas stations anywhere.
I couldn't hold it in. I screeched in a fit of emotionally exhausted fear and frustration: "There are no. signs. ANYWHERE!!"
I was looking, as best I could, straining and searching and where are those signs?? but I had to keep driving because of others behind me and around me and the pressure from panicking about the fact that I was about to run out of gas. Any moment. And I was all alone. With a baby.
This was not a good place to stop.
Whose says 18 makes you a mature adult? Or parenthood for that matter? I wanted my Dad. I wanted help. I wanted out of the situation. NOW.
"Elise, just pull over." His command was gentle.
"I can't!" My eyes wildly darted from gas gauge to cross streets. "I don't see any place to stop!"
Again, firmly, tenderly "Elise, just look around, and find someplace to safely pull over."
I stopped looking for street signs and gas stations and at the gauge and in my rear view mirror and focused solely on a safe resting place. I found an empty lot, well lit, and pulled in. I turned my car off, sure it wouldn't restart.
"Okay... I stopped..."
Still and out of the motion of the ceaseless current flowing, pushing... I could fully take it in, look around, and describe where I was. It wasn't pretty, but it was accurate enough.
And it was lonely, and it got dark, but the help came to me.
And it's a good thing, too. Because I was right in that I wouldn't have made it much further, I didn't have enough fuel to go on. But I got filled up, and to my great relief all I had to do was follow the way home.
And seven years later, this is still the way I make it safely home.
This is still the way I get specific directions to where I need to go, what I need to do.
This is still how I get filled up.
It always begins with fully stopping. Jumping out of the pressured driving on, looking around until I can read the signs.
Then I tell Him where I am. And I ask for His help, I ask what I should do, as specifically as I can.
Because when I finally stop wailing and complaining and screaming frustration about being lost, but instead see my specific requests being responded to and answered... My panic fades in the beautiful relief of understanding that He really does hear me, and he answers me and He is not far off, but draws near to my flailing heart.
My specific questions and requests are not a test of His goodness, but of my understanding His will for me. When I lay my specific requests before Him, I wait in expectation, and now joy, knowing He will answer... and that I will understand.
As with Gideon requesting two specific confirmations before war, or as Jonathan trusting God with specific words before entering a fight, I believe the LORD when He told me it is an honoring childlike faith that asks, and believes the Father has the answer.
And the Father who knows my entire, winding, breathe of a road, and sees it all so clearly in the palm of His hand... He always comes to me. He fills me up.
Then I just have to follow Him out... follow Him home.