Uncertainty gripped my heart as I wound my way up the snow-covered road. I had worked longer than planned so left later than I intended for the special weekend retreat with women from my church, Kingwood Bible Church in Salem, Oregon, at a Christian conference center at the base of the Cascades.
I was supposed to lead worship for each session, and I feared I might miss the first meeting, or, worse, have to turn around and try again in the morning if I couldn’t find the first turnoff. I had planned to leave early enough to make the 45-minute drive in daylight but did not take into account how early the sun sets at the end of February.
Heading out, I entered the address into my phone’s GPS, hoping it would navigate as far as possible before losing service. When daylight disappeared completely, I realized how foolish I was to venture out alone. The snowy conditions and darkness made it nearly impossible to see the edge of the road, much less any signs. I had not seen another car for miles, and my phone now showed “No Service.” I figured I was on my own to find my next turn.
I have dealt with fear all my life, with fear of the dark being one of my biggest fears since childhood. My vivid imagination only makes things worse.
I reminded myself that God saw me, knew exactly where I was and where I needed to be. “Please God, make it really clear where to turn so I don’t miss it,” I prayed.
Moments later I heard the map voice: “In 800 feet turn right.” Peering through the darkness, my headlights caught the half snow-covered sign for the road I was to turn on which I would have missed if “the voice” had not alerted me. “Thank you, Lord!” I spoke into the darkness, grateful that God used the voice to direct me even though a quick glance at my phone showed “No Service.”
The second snow-covered road was narrower than the first. Again, I felt lost. Numerous roads branched off into the cold, dark woods of Silver Falls State Park. What if I took a wrong turn and got stranded in the snow with no one knowing where I was? I had packed warm clothes and boots and had two cozy blankets, but the thought of spending the night alone in the dark snowy woods sent a chill down my spine.
“Please, Lord, I need you to make it really clear again where to turn so I don’t miss it.”
Going further I heard, “In 600 feet turn left.” Rounding the bend, my headlights flashed over the sign leading to Christian Renewal Center. Upon turning, I looked at my phone. No service.
Turning off my car in the parking lot behind the lodge, I let go of the steering wheel and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
“Thank you, Jesus!” I said out loud.
Looking back over my life, I see how I’ve let fear steal my peace and influence my actions. Something that has helped me move beyond my fears and do things that I never would have done in the past is to remind myself that the Lord is my good Shepherd. While driving, whenever I started to feel fearful, I would say out loud, “I will fear no evil because you are with me,” (Ps. 23:4).
As I entered the warmth and safety of the lodge with 15 minutes to spare, I felt the tension finally leaving my body. And to my delight, I discovered the building’s name: “Good Shepherd Lodge.”
Pam Fahndrich attends Kingwood Bible Church in Salem, Oregon, where she serves as a worship leader. She and her husband, Tim, have two adult children and own a digital media company. Fahndrich enjoys connecting with people and building authentic relationships.