The Slea Head drive around the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland is beautiful. And daunting.
The road is exceedingly narrow and unlined, hemmed in at times by gorgeous rolling green countryside on one side and the ocean and its cliffs on the other. As my husband and I crept along it, going far under the ready-to-meet-Jesus Irish speed limit, we kept pausing to sneak peeks out at the stunning view. And then we rounded a curve…and paused.
A line of traffic stretched off into the distance ahead of us. No one was moving. The sight was unusual in such an area, where there were plenty of stops to pull off and take photos if you wanted. My husband frowned. “Maybe somebody stopped their car to take a picture,” he suggested. “Or maybe there was an accident.” The cars had come to such a standstill that tourists got out and moved around freely, walking to the roadside to take photos before returning to their abandoned cars.
Uncertain, we noticed a blond woman walking briskly back to her car from the front of the line of traffic. My husband poked his head out the window. “Excuse me,” he called. “Is there an accident?”
“No, no,” she assured him. Her Irish brogue said she was native to the area. “A tour bus driver just met a car coming the opposite way. Nervous drivers, both of them. Nobody wants to pass.”
I sympathized. I didn’t imagine it was possible to pass, not with the road so narrow, and not with the ocean frothing below and to the left of us. “Oh, no. What will they do?”
The Irish woman blinked as though the question surprised her, looked at me, and gave a hearty laugh. “Oh, they’ll figure it out,” she said with an unconcerned wave of the hand, and marched back to her car.
My husband and I looked at each other and laughed.
In the end, she turned out to be right. The car facing the tour bus eventually gathered the courage to shy over to the side of the road, which freed up the traffic. The bus’ engine roared to life and it began the slow, arduous task of passing the line of cars opposite.
And my husband and I adopted that phrase – “oh, we’ll figure it out” – for the rest of our trip.
It freed us from worry. Instead of fretting over what might happen if we strayed from the map or missed something, we shrugged and went anyway GPS died? We’ll figure it out. No place to grab lunch? We’ll figure it out. Accidentally drove down an access road for farm equipment thinking it was an actual highway? We’ll figure it out. As a result, we were present fully in the moment, had opportunities we’d otherwise have missed, and generally enjoyed a rich, stress-free vacation. It’s amazing what can happen when you stop thinking so much.
The funny thing is that “you’ll figure it out” isn’t so far from being a Biblical truth. The Bible is full of commands to stop fretting over the future and to turn out attention to the present day. Jesus instructed us not to worry about tomorrow (Matt. 6:34), nor waste too much care on how we will clothe and feed ourselves in the future (6:25). James discourages us from getting too settled in our plans about the future (James 4:15). And in the Old Testament, God provided manna to the Israelites–but only as much as they needed for each day (Exodus 16).
Of late, and since my trip, my prayer has been simply this: that God would give me the energy and resources to do what He needs me to do today. To refrain from focusing overmuch on what might happen or could happen or should happen, and to trust not necessarily that I will figure out the rest, but that He will. It has cut out a lot of unnecessary stress, and it has given me a laser focus lately. One day at a time is manageable. One day at a time, anything is possible. We can all be available to God and fulfill our purpose and do amazing things – for a day.
If you tend to get bogged down in your long-term thinking, as I often do, or if you are the sort of person who is always thinking about the consequences of this choice or that choice, or what will happen if, take a moment, and take a deep breath. Say to yourself, we’ll figure it out. And then set it aside and deal with today.
God gives us enough to move forward. Our continued steps forward depends on His great providence.