Talk about a weird winter. Oh, not where I grew up. We didn't just have a white Christmas. We sometimes had a white Thanksgiving, a white Valentine's Day - maybe even a white Easter.
But I've lived in the South for awhile. We're used to watching the winter weather on TV, happening to Northern friends.
Not this winter. Last week was a snowstorm that buried us. This week, it's one icy mix after another. With skating rinks without skates. Otherwise known as sidewalks and parking lots.
As I watched the slip-and-slide forecast again today, I had a flashback of a night in New Jersey, years ago. I was scheduled to speak at a youth event in the Pocono Mountains, a couple hours to our west in Pennsylvania. But all day I had been watching snow piling up where I lived - and where I was supposed to go.
All day, I waited for the call that the event had been cancelled. The call never came. The retreat was on. So, armed with snow tires and emergency supplies, I ventured onto Interstate 80 for my perilous journey.
At times, I was driving into snow that made visibility limited at best. It was going to be a long, grueling and hazardous trip.
Until I saw those lights ahead of me. A snowplow! Clearing a lane ahead.
For most of the rest of the journey, Mr. Snowplow was my very best friend. I stayed right behind him as he cleared the road ahead of me - and got me safe to my destination.
Just like my Jesus.
On every treacherous, every scary road of my life. When there was no money. When there was no map. When the storm was blinding. When I could not see my way.
And on that day when I felt like a lost little boy, with my lifetime love suddenly gone. She had been so happy, so alive the night before at our grandson's graduation. And the next afternoon, gone to heaven. I've never felt so lost.
Her journey was over. I still had miles to travel. Except without her.
But now, over six years later, my Jesus has kept His promise - "Be assured that the Lord your God is the One who goes ahead of you" (Deuteronomy 9:3).
Or as Jesus said of His shepherding "sheep" like me: "When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him" (John 10:4).
My unknown is known to Him. My scary road is safe with Him. My lonely road is never an "alone" road with Him.
In the years since those darkest days, there's been a pandemic that turned everything upside down. Four upending shoulder surgeries. Financial challenges. And a whole lot of new.
And everywhere I've walked, there's been the Shepherd's footprint. He's already in my tomorrows. And yours. Clearing the way. Anticipating what we'll need.
This is why we can leave our comfort zone to follow Him into unmapped territory. This is why - in a world full of uncertainty - following Jesus is the only safe way to go. This Savior - who loved us enough to die to make a relationship with Him possible - will never do us wrong.
I got to my destination safely that day I chose to follow the snowplow through the storm.
I will get to my destination safely today - and forever - because I am following my Shepherd through the storm.