My little sister Jordan and I began planning this adventure weeks in advance. Our destination: Nashville – where one of our lovely sisters lives with her Army-Special-Forces-has-a-million-world-traveling-stories man. A few weeks before our spring break trip it was suggested to me that we drive up the Natchez Trace from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a 444 mile scenic federal parkway with no commercialism on it whatsoever (no gas stations, restaurants, signs, 18 wheelers, etc.) meaning it’s the perfect route to drive with the sunroof open and music blaring. Prior to the trip we were cautioned endlessly to be careful when our friends and loved ones learned we intended to camp by ourselves. They warned us of bears and snakes and raccoons, and strangers. We took their advice to heart, and promised to be supremely alert and careful. I reserved a primitive campsite in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains just off the Trace for two nights, packed up my little car, and we set off.
For some reason despite all the warnings and worries people had, peace settled over my heart before this trip. I knew we would be safe. I didn’t know how. Our only defense was common sense and a little tube of mace. Somehow I knew that Gods hand was in this.
Two hours away from home we pulled away from a Natchez gas station as rain started to pour in sheets. I couldn’t see the lines on the road much less any signs, which is particularly disconcerting when you’re in a strange town being directed by GPS. We took that as our cue to start praying, asking the Lord to use us however He deemed on this trip. We asked Him to give us His eyes to see and hear Him, to speak His words, be His hands and feet. And almost as an afterthought I decided to ask that He roll away the rain clouds that Friday. I’d looked up the forecast for the route we were taking that day. It predicted showers and severe thunderstorms the entire way. But I know that my heavenly Father denies His children no good thing, so I asked for this creature comfort. Before we’d even gotten through Natchez the deluge became a misty drizzle and blue sky was peeking through the clouds. I needed no further proof that my Daddy delights in giving good gifts to His children. We soon opened the sunroof, marveling at His faithfulness. This was becoming the adventure we’d dreamed of.
We were painfully naïve of the paths set before us.