"What did you have to do in Anchorage?"
That is one of the most difficult questions for us to answer. Last weekend we made the 200 mile one way trip to town. Did we go to stuff our truck with groceries and other necessities (e.g chicken feed, toilet paper, etc.)? Or was it to preach and lead Bible Study at Anchorage Lutheran church? Maybe we went to take the kids to a movie. (Amani, our seven year old, had never been in a movie theater before. She really enjoyed "Monsters, Inc." in Three D.) Or maybe we went because there were several people from our home community that were in the hospital? My kids seemed to think that picking up pizza's at Pizza Hut was a special treat, but that only lasted a few minutes. I spent much more time visiting friends that have moved into town from Copper Center. We bought a case of paper towels and styrofoam cups for church that we had to tie on the top of our truck bed cover. We also attended an Epiphany party at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. I almost forgot, we had 6 dentist appointments and an eye exam. All of that was packed into three days and two and a half nights--we got home at about 2:30 AM the third night.
As I look back over this list, I think the best answer to why we went to Anchorage is that is what people in rural Alaska do. We go to town to do a host of things that we can't do at home. Many things are available near home, if you want to pay for them, but we don't. So every trip to town is jam packed with shopping, visiting, and meetings.
As I was driving home, chatting with my wife while the kids slept, a dark shape appeared in the middle of the road. I hit my brakes and felt us start to slide. I swerved. Kalae woke up and saw, "nothing but moose butt!" I have hit a moose before and I remembered the feeling as I braced for impact. At the last moment, we slid within inches just to the left of the bewildered beast. Instinctively, I let off the gas and steered into my 60 mph slide. I envisioned us laying upside down or at least buried in snow in the bar pit on this lonely stretch of road in the middle of the night. The truck responded to my steering and within a couple seconds we were again happily riding down the road toward home. I glanced at the thermometer. It was 3 degrees. It would not have been fun to be stuck in that weather.
Some may say, "You were lucky." Some may say, "You did a nice piece of driving." Some may say, "You should have been driving slower." We said, "Thank you, Lord!" It was a good reminder that the Lord watches over us day and night. To paraphrase Psalm 37: 23-24
The Lord directs the tires of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they slide, they will never crash,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.