Marvin Sapp saved my life on a dark road in South Carolina.
I’ll tell you more about that in a second. But first…
I love road trips. Long or short, they are all an adventure.
During short trips, it’s just me, my thoughts, and Jesus heading to our next destination. Target, perhaps. Or to run errands…at or near Target. Sometimes the music is on. Mostly, it’s off.
See, there’s always something buzzing in the background of our lives. Black Lives vs. Blue Lives vs. All Lives Mattering, bombings in [choose the city], gun violence in [choose the inner city], the presidential circus – and that’s in just one day’s news cycle. Then there are the demands of life: like work and getting Chobani Flips on sale for a $1 each. Let’s not forget the visual chatter of Facebook and/or Instagram.
In the car, I get to turn it all off.
Long distance trips work a little differently, however.
In early June, I drove from New York to Charlotte to Florida. Armed with audiobooks: The Power of Now and The Hunger Games, a full Praise playlist, snacks and Mountain Dew, I got up early on both legs of the trip and (on the first trip) hit the road before sunrise and shortly after respectively. Fun stuff.
I got up early for four reasons.
- To beat weekend beach traffic.
- I am familiar with the roads in my area whether it’s light or dark out.
- It’s summer and my AC is busted. When the sun is up high, my only wish is for traffic to keep moving. The speed creates a decent breeze where I don’t feel like a baked chicken (with a great sunroof tan.) Just thought I’d share that in case you find yourself in such a predicament. Y’all DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT know my struggles.
The fourth reason is because on a prior trip to Georgia, I got caught in a terrible rain storm in South Carolina AT NIGHT. It was so bad, that the trucks slowed to 35 mph and turned on their hazards. This was right after the floods happened and some of the roads collapsed in Columbia. I had just (thankfully) gotten disconnected from a depressing prayer call for the people in Paris and I couldn’t get anyone, not even my mom on the phone. I felt so alone.
Needless to say, my mind conjured all kinds of ways I could die that night. And I began to talk to God and say that I hoped I hadn't totally messed this up and that I’d done a few things right (you know, to remind Him because it's not like He already knew or anything...) and all this other stuff. And then, Marvin Sapp began to sing “I Win,” and I remembered my faith. In the middle of a storm (a real down and dirty force of nature), Marvin Sapp helped me overtake my thoughts. I prayed Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
At the time, I didn't connect it, but using your gifts for God's glory can really propel someone else out of a bad situation. Y'all don't hear me, though. Marvin and I, and some of his colleagues in Christ decreed, declared and praised our way through the (literal and figurative) storm. Can you imagine if he'd decided instead to sing about broads in Atlanta and credit card scammers? I mighta died! Seriously, my heart and mind found a ridiculous peace. It was a night I will never forget.
Anywho...I decided since then, no nighttime long distance driving.
Except, on the 4th of July weekend, I had to go to Virginia to host a red carpet event. I did not leave early because God told me to stay. I could have left early the next morning, but with no AC, I needed time to get to Virginia, find a beauty supply store, shower, get le hair and makeup in order, and get dressed for the event.
As the day progressed a few things told me I would not be canceling on the event. The last thing was me sitting in a parking lot asking God to show me a red car as a sign I was to go. A gray pickup truck crossed in front of me. I turned to head back home and there in the intersection were two shiny red cars.
So I did it again. And I did well. But this time, I fell asleep! It was for a split second (I think), but that’s long enough to die! Hello? I was in no danger of falling asleep again. Instead, I started thinking too much and anxiety returned. This time, I began panicking because although it’s a straight run, sometimes, I couldn’t see the road ahead. And what if I did fall asleep? Would anyone find me? And would I hit a curve too quickly? The mind is dangerous when presented with fear and the unknown, especially when you're alone. I know God didn't want me dead. But I know exactly who did. I hollered the same verse. “Be anxious for nothing…” Calmness. Shortly afterward a sign and exit for gas and food appeared.
Faith is like driving on a dark road at night; when there are no other cars on the road, no streetlights, and limited visibility ahead. You know the road ahead is there, but you can’t always see it. You have to believe anyway.
Faith is traveling through the storm (issue, problem, incident, accident or crisis) and wholeheartedly relying on God to be your guide, your umbrella, your Hunter boots, and slicker.
Faith is the inexplicable peace that settles in your spirit despite the unknown.
Faith is storing up the Word in your heart to whip it out in crises. Faith is the full armor of God, warding off evil (thoughts and plans) and shielding us from the enemy.
With driving at night (and faith), you have two options: You can pull over, right there on the pitch black shoulder that scary movies are made from and die at the hands of the killer. Or you can keep driving along, alert and watching for signs and moving traffic, trusting that God is with you.
It’s no accident that Marvin Sapp came on. What I listen to is carefully curated because whatever I put into my head is what will come out. (The scary movies of my youth, for example?) But the timing was God's.
The Word says in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that “We walk by faith, not by sight.” It’s easy to remember that when counseling someone else. But when we are on a dark (or unknown) road that we are not familiar with or facing a terrible storm, we must remember (again) that we walk by faith, not by sight because OUR line of vision is limited – BUT GOD’S ISN’T. He is always with us as we go on to our next destination on a dark or unknown road.
For this (and Marvin Sapp), I am thankful.