A Real Nowhere Land

Published 10:27 am Sunday, June 16, 2024

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By Michael J. Brooks

It was territory I’d not seen before — the mountains of North Carolina. The mapping app took me via the interstate the entire route to Asheville, but I decided I’d take my time on the way home and drive the backroads.

Little did I realize how isolated these backroads would be.

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I remember the intersection where I messed up. I should’ve turned left on Highway 74, but I turned right on Highway 28. I’m not sure why. It was a winding road in the middle of nowhere. I lost cell service and couldn’t follow the app, which I apparently misread anyway. But for an uncertain hour I was in the “nowhere land” the Beatles sang about in 1965.

After some 20 miles I came into the town of Fontana Dam, a motorcycle hangout. I suppose there were 50 or 60 bikers there. Not knowing if any were Hell’s Angels or not, I walked over to some of them and said, “Nice bike, man!” 

I really had no idea what a nice bike was, but I wanted them to look on me with favor.

The store attendant told me to follow the road to Robbinsville, then I’d have cell service again. He knew what he spoke of.

I remember the days we used service station or rest area maps. Often the unfolded maps were in our laps as we drove. This was the equivalent of texting and driving, and now I feel shame about this. Today we depend on mapping apps and follow them without question.

As Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone said to Dr. Dix: “I sense a parable.”

We should learn to follow God’s leadership in a similar way – in faith – even when we might not see with our eyes the way forward.

Another take – away is never to take a trip in unknown territory without forethought. I’ve determined I won’t go again to a new place without an escape plan in mind.

U.S. sailors were held 11 months in 1968 after North Koreans captured the U.S.S. Pueblo.

Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Harris’s Bible was taken from him at the point of a bayonet, but his crew improvised in captivity. They reported one way they maintained courage was what they called the Pueblo Bible.

“Snatches of hymns, elements of worship services, precious bits of Scripture were written on leftover scraps of paper,” Harris said. “In our unchurched, unlearned way we turned to God, as prayer groups and secret biblical discussions sprang up among those who were not in solitary confinement.”

The psalmist exhorted us to “hide God’s word in our hearts” (Psalm 119:11).

I wonder what kind of Bible I could reconstruct from memory if I got lost on the highway of life? 

“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.