I finally graduated from Arizona State University in May 1960. Because of extenuating circumstances, not because I was “slow,” it took me six years to complete my studies.
I was thrilled to sign a teaching contract with Anaheim, California Public Schools, but teaching in Anaheim meant that life, as I knew it, was about to suffer a drastic change. The thought of moving to a place I had never been, meeting people I did not know, and taking a job totally new to me was a bit frightening.
That summer I bought a car, the first car I had ever owned. I laughed yesterday when my niece told me that her granddaughter, sixteen years old,” just got a brand new car. She doesn’t even have a license yet. Well, that’s all right. I was a late bloomer.
My car—a 1957 Chevrolet Impala, just three years old without a scratch on it, was yellow with a white top and a silver streak down the side. Wish I still had that car. I understand it is now a classic worth many more times what I paid for it.
A couple of weeks before I was to report to my new job, I loaded my car with household goods and personal belongings. Then early the next morning I started for California down a highway I had never traveled toward a destination 400 miles away, and MAMA RODE SHOTGUN.
The first known use of the phrase, “riding shotgun,” was in the 1905 novel, “The Sunset Trail,” by Alfred Henry Lewis. In the days of stagecoach travel, a guard was always hired to ride alongside the driver ready to use his shotgun to ward off bandits or hostile Native Americans.
The term, “riding shotgun,” refers to the practice of sitting alongside the driver in a moving vehicle, but it also means “to assist or protect.” The phrase has been used to mean giving actual or figurative support or aid to someone in a situation.
That’s why Mama “rode shotgun.” She didn’t drive and she couldn’t have shot a gun if she’d had one. She came along to support me. I’m not sure she ever knew how much I needed that support, but Mama was a cool customer. When the traffic overwhelmed me, and I wasn’t sure which way to go, she was there to calm me down.
We looked endlessly for the right apartment in Anaheim. When I might have given up, Mama was there to spur me on. She helped me move in and put things away. Then it was time to send her home—back to Mesa. Putting her on that Greyhound bus, and watching the taillights as it drove away, was one of the hardest things I ever did. Returning to that lonely apartment to begin a new life was even more difficult. Mama, my support, was gone.
Since that time sixty years ago, I have been in and out of all kinds of situations here and around the world. Once I was stranded in Athens Greece when no one came to meet me, and I could not even read the telephone directory. I was lured into an illegal taxi in Poland not sure where I was being taken. There was a very real bandit scare on a dark highway in India, and there were the Spanish police, who insisted I follow them to a hotel at the edge of town. In Turkey, I was warned to be very careful about what I said in public for fear of being jailed, and in Poland, again, all means of public transportation was halted because of a political uprising leaving me wondering how I would ever get back to Brussels. When my hotel in London sounded the fire alarm in the middle of the night, there was only time to grab my coat and purse and run.
You know what? Mama was never there through any of those crises. However, there was always someone “riding shotgun.” There was always someone to support me and help through those situations.
David wrote in Psalm 27:1 – 3, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me…they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.”
As If that is not enough, Psalm 91:11 says, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”
Was I ever uncertain? Yes, many times. Was I ever afraid? Of course but there was always that still, small voice whispering into my spirit, “Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you…” Isaiah 41:10.
Perhaps you have been hurt in some way by this pandemic—physically, emotionally, or spiritually you are suffering. You have lost a loved one, your job, your business, your income, you’re worried about the future, and if you have to shelter at home one more day, you will go nuts.
Let me assure you, “There is someone ‘Riding Shotgun’ for you.” He is there to support you and help you through this situation or any other.
You can boldly say, “…The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6.
WOW! This BLESSED ASSURANCE is yours for the taking.
REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!