Even if you don’t live in Atlanta, it is likely you have read or heard about the rare snowstorm we experienced on Tuesday of this week and the chaos which followed as the snow turned our roads into sheets of ice when temperatures plummeted into the teens by early evening. In fact, we are still dealing with significant road issues as of today. Having experienced it first hand with an 11-hour commute home, I can assure you real life was much, much worse than what you may have seen on TV or online. This has been a hardship for countless people from those who left their abandoned cars to find shelter from the intense cold to the hundreds of children forced to sleep in their schools because they could not get home to their parents. Please keep the people most affected by the storm in your prayers.
It is the subject of “answered prayer” that I want to address in this post.
When I left my office on Tuesday at noon and joined the countless thousands trying to get home, I spent the first three hours on the phone or mulling over business related issues. My mind was racing over random minutiae until I had to face my first ice-covered hill. I thought of nothing more than getting my car safely over the hill; and by some miracle I did. As I reflected on this close call and tried to calm my rapidly beating heart, I realized that I had fallen into the same trap which has ensnared me so many times in the past. I was attempting to be in control without any help. I was trying to take on the storm, the icy hill and my dangerous commute home all by myself rather than seek the Lord’s help in prayer. I also recognized the recent and reoccurring pattern of being so busy that my prayer life had been getting crowded out by my insane schedule.
If you have read my past work, you know I have frequently referred to asking Christ for help and receiving exactly what I needed, not necessarily what I wanted. The storm, in a strange way, provided me several opportunities to make course corrections in my life. Let me explain.
I desperately needed to be still and listen. The storm forced me to be in a car by myself for almost half a day. When I received the jarring wake-up call on the first icy hill, I felt a surprising sense of peace that has so often eluded me of late. I prayed my Rosary in the silence of the car and felt the warm embrace of our Blessed Mother. As I encountered more steep hills and dangerous situations with stranded cars everywhere, I reached out to our Lord for help and strength. I must have made the sign of the cross and blessed myself 50 times that night.
Eight hours into my journey home, I attempted a particularly dangerous hill and started slipping backwards. I was able to maneuver the car to the side of the road and decided it was time to walk home. At that moment, a stranger appeared out of the snowy darkness and asked me if I could move back so the large truck in front of me could back up and escape the icy patch where he was stuck. I explained my predicament and he immediately offered his help in getting me turned around. After a few hair-raising moments, I was on my way again thanks to the kindness of this Good Samaritan. As I looked for another back road home, I came upon a hotel and decided it was too dangerous to continue and would call it a night. Upon entering the lobby, I was surrounded by dozens of people all seeking shelter in this full hotel. The front desk employees of the hotel confirmed my fears that none of the other hotels in the area had vacancies. Walking back to my car reflecting on the rejection Joseph and Mary received at the crowded inn, I said still another prayer and headed once again for home.
Despite the setback, I kept my peace. I was calm and reflective. I thought a great deal about my wife and sons and how much I loved them. Fond memories of my father’s visit for my 13-year-old son’s birthday a few days before brought a smile to my face. I did an examination of conscience and thought about the sins I needed to confess and looked forward to my next opportunity for Reconciliation.
Inching closer to home in the final hour of my snow odyssey, I prayed over and over again a prayer of thanks to Jesus for His strength and help. I reconnected to what was important during this adventure and felt clear-headed and strangely refreshed after such a harrowing ordeal. I had my priorities straight again and was truly grateful.
I walked through the door of my home exactly 11 hours after I left my office into the welcoming embrace of my teary-eyed wife. I was keenly aware at that moment, in addition to the spiritual course correction and epiphanies I received during one of the longest days of my life, that I am blessed to have a wife and sons who love me. I am even more blessed to have a loving Heavenly Father who saw fit to bring me home.
Lord, I am ever grateful to you for the blessings in my life and your gifts of peace, strength and courage during the storm. Please watch over and bless all of those who are still struggling to recover and give them what they need most during this challenging time. Amen.
Randy Hain, Senior Editor and co-founder of The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work which was released by Liguori Publications. The Catholic Briefcase was voted the Best Catholic Book of 2011 in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards.
Randy Hain’s exciting second book, Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith was released by Liguori Publications in November, 2012. Along the Way was voted Runner-Up in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Catholic Book of 2012. His third book, Something More: A Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life, was released in February, 2013. His newest book, LANDED! Proven Job Search Strategies for Today’s Professional was released in December 2013 by Serviam Press.
All of Randy Hain’s books can also be purchased at your local Catholic bookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or www.liguori.org.
Looking for a Catholic Speaker? Check out Randy’s speaker’s page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.
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Thank you! – The Editors