These past few days I have been travelling quite a bit and experiencing what I used to hear older Christians pray for: “journeying mercies”. On Friday night, I had the privilege of joining with the congregation of Drumkeeran in Co Cavan as they celebrated the 175th anniversary of their congregation and the 25 years of ministry of Rev Jean Mackarel in the group of congregations that includes Killeshandra, Cavan and Bellasis along with Drumkeeran.
Thankfully my sat nav device worked well and it got me to my destination on time, but not without a few de-tours to avoid flooded roads. Outside Clones I drove into what I though was a large puddle, but after a few seconds I thought I was in Lough Erne! I was relieved to make it through to the other side. There were a few other troubling moments as I came upon sections of flooded roads without any warning, but by God’s grace I managed to negotiate the hazards successfully.
It was a great evening, planned and led by Jean in her own inimitable style, and no one was in any rush home. The tea, sandwiches and cake were served around 10.30pm and I eventually got on the road again. The road near Clones with the big puddle was now closed, so I was diverted to Newbliss. But diversions were also in place along that road due to the floods, and I ended up on a single track road with grass growing up the middle, and my sat nav registering a blank. I eventually made it to Monaghan and on to Portadown for around 1am.
I arrived in Lisburn on Saturday morning for a Taking Care Trainers conference with the rain teeming down. It was then a quick run into Belfast in difficult driving conditions on the M1 to the Assembly Hall for the SPUD youth assembly. Then off to the north coast to be close to Bushmills for the morning service in Dunluce. It was good to share in a Full Attendance Day with Rev Stephen Carson, former assistant in First Portadown, and his family. The new hall facilities in Dunluce are excellent.
Then to a rain-swept Ahoghill, and to Trinity congregation, where Rev Dr Harry Uprichard has ministered for 39 years, for their united evening service with First Ahoghill and Brookside. It was an excellent evening congregation, with good sausage rolls and tray bakes afterwards.
I don’t drive particularly slowly (I think) but on the way back to Portadown there were some other cars that were seriously over the speed limit and were not driving wisely in difficult road conditions. One eejit was weaving in and out the lanes of traffic at great speed and putting us all at risk.
Yes, the Lord is good and we are thankful for “journeying mercies”, but that doesn’t relieve us from the responsibility of driving with caution and respect for other road-users. In the dark and damp days between now and Christmas, we pray that our roads will be safe and that no families will have to face tragedy and loss through speed or stupidity on our roads.