Freedom in Wide Open Spaces

For many years I traveled Houston freeways to and from work–eighty miles round trip. I was good at it, too–fearlessly and seamlessly moving in and out of traffic with the best of them. I still drive in Houston, but not usually during rush hour. But when traffic gets snarly, I put on my “Houston driver hat,” and get down to business.

Over the last several years, however, I have developed an unhealthy fear of freeway driving. (Given the state of today’s drivers, maybe it isn’t so unhealthy!)

Do you know what it's like to feel boxed in? Trapped in traffic, or circumstances with no way out? Does your heart long for wide open spaces? Read on!

I hate being boxed in. There is a particular stretch of freeway I try to avoid. If I have to drive on it, I stay out of the left lane. With a retaining wall and no shoulder on one side, and fast-moving big rigs on the other, the fear of becoming a Dianne-sandwich is real!

The Sam Houston Ship Channel Bridge

houston-ship-channel-bridgeThere is also a bridge in my area that I travel. Although I despise it, it is often the best way to get from Point A to Point B. The Sam Houston Ship Channel Bridge.

Four narrow, shoulder-less lanes, peaking at 175 feet, carry harried and hurried travelers across the Houston ship channel. Once I pass the no turn-around point, I brace myself for approximately two minutes of sheer terror. Hands gripping the steering wheel, I talk to myself–and the Lord–loudly–as I carefully make my way across the bridge. As it peaks, so does my adrenaline. My speed, however, usually slows (lol). But I exhale when I finally make it to the bottom, with wider lanes and broad shoulders.

When one of my daughters was learning to drive, I was sitting in the back seat–nose in my device. I happened to look up to see the bridge’s retaining wall out my window. She had missed her exit and was now traveling on my dreaded bridge. I hate to admit that I had a small panic attack–which did nothing to instill the confidence my husband was trying to instill in her. I quickly buried my head back in my device until we were safely across.


A few weeks ago, I traveled this bridge at night with a friend who is equally afraid of it as I am. And wouldn’t you know it. About half-way up the bridge we could see an OBSTACLE at the edge of our lane, butted up to the retaining wall that separated us from–you know–NOTHING! We were both terrified. As we approached it, thankfully, the traffic in the next lane was slightly behind us, so I was able to scoot over a bit to avoid a RECLINER! Argh!!!

I have no idea how this fear developed. But it is there–and it is strong. My heart started racing just searching the inter webs for appropriate images!

Do You Ever Feel Boxed-In?

This feeling of being boxed in and trapped can come from many places.

  • An over-full schedule you feel you can’t control
  • The conviction of unconfessed sin
  • Fear of the future
  • Overwhelming personal crises
  • (Insert your own here)

In the midst of these, we may feel paralyzed with no way of escape. While there may not be an escape from our circumstances, there is escape from the oppressive feelings that sometimes accompanies them.

First, we can rest in God’s perfect love and continual presence. Our circumstances may be overwhelming, but we are not alone. God walks through them with us, strengthening us, and calming our fears.

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:18)

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

We can have confidence in God’s love and forgiveness. Sometimes our circumstances are of our own doing, and we feel undone. We need not fear. God is waiting for us, and He forgives all of it.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9)

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

God's love is the key to living in wide open spaces.Click To Tweet

Wide Open Spaces Bring Much Needed Relief

The relief I experience once I clear the bridge, reminds me of this beautiful truth.

“Let your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised … I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom.“(Psalm 119:41-48 MSG)

There is nothing quite like the freedom of space–with the ability to move around, spin–and even dance, without fear of tripping or falling. Circumstances can and do wear us down physically and emotionally. Eventually, though, our hearts can soar.

dsc04841There is another bridge that also spans the Houston ship channel–and I love it! The clearance below is 178 feet. Three feet higher than that of the Sam Houston Ship Channel Bridge.

The difference? It’s wide and open! Four lanes and two full-size shoulders in each direction. The Fred Hartman Bridge is a pleasure to drive over!



“He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me because He was pleased with me and delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:19 AMP)

HOUSTON, Texas (Dec. 11)--The Port of Houston, the busiest in the nation in terms of foreign tonnage, is accessed by a 54-mile long ship channel. In an average day more than 700 vessel transit the channel. Here, a ship passes under the Fred Hartman bridge on the Houston ship channel, December 11. USCG photo by PA2 James Dillard







Images: Traffic – Pixabay (U. Leone)

Aerial view of Fred Hartman Bridge, public domain USCG photo by PA2 James Dillard.

Aerial view of Sam Houston Ship Channel Bridge, by Steve Nelson as $2sunset with a Creative Commons License.

Joining my friend Lori, at Searching For Moments, today!

Where I regularly link up.

Purposeful Faith with Kelly Balarie and Testimony Tuesday with Holly Barret.

Grace & Truth with Arabah Joy, Counting My Blessings with Deb Wolf, Dance with Jesus with Susan B. Mead

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Categories: Sweeter with God


20 replies

  1. Such a good post, Diane. Like you, I do not enjoy the feeling of being boxed in. I am so grateful our God calls us out into wide-opened spaces. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

  2. When I was a kid I developed a phobia of sorts regarding a bridge that my parents would take us across to visit friends in another state (just the other side of our city). It was black and to me looked rickety and even “evil!” ha! So I was like you, Dianne, whenever we crossed. I tried to busy myself with something else–no cell phones in those days! But yes, a fear that grows to that level is a hard thing to manage, but doing so with the knowledge that the Lord is with you and protecting your every step or every “drive” is really the best medicine. 😉 Thanks for sharing so openly!

  3. Loved this, my dear sister. I’m from Arizona – but live in Florida. My comfort place is open wide spaces.
    Christine Malkemes recently posted…Grateful for His Love and FaithfulnessMy Profile

  4. I loved this. I agree with you about open spaces and yet, in the season since my Hubby moved to Heaven, I have learned to cherish the closeness of the Holy Spirit in these very spots.

  5. I don’t get “boxed” in while driving but pull up real close to me in my office and I feel trapped!!!

    • These “boxed in” feelings show up lots of places! Sometimes at my own desk when it’s piled high and deep! lol … Thanks for ready today, Susan.

  6. I don’t like being boxed in either. And bridges? Don’t get me started. I can’t imagine driving that much in Houston. Whew. You’re brave. 🙂

    “While there may not be an escape from our circumstances, there is escape from the oppressive feelings that sometimes accompanies them.” So thankful for the rest we can receive from our Father! My mind can often be a jumbled mess and I need his broad places. Great post, Diane.
    Lisa notes recently posted…No Pride in Giving, No Shame in TakingMy Profile

    • (Smile …) After a while you get used to “the life.” But it’s been many years since a daily commute was part of mine! Thankful for the reminders–even in traffic–of God’s faithful presence!

  7. Yes, we can have confidence in God’s love and faithfulness. It is wide open space – love that thought Dianne. You paint a good picture of our fear and how we can be fearless in God.

  8. I have a fear of bridges too. It’s strange–it’s only when I’m driving. Not when I’m a passenger. You know, Dianne, it occurred to me while I was reading your post, that God sometimes plops a recliner in the middle of our boxed-in-ness and offers us not just rest, but an opportunity to recline, as the apostle John did. He invites us to recline in our rest! And we often see it as an obstacle, like you did, because the lanes are so narrow, and the traffic is so great.

    I loved this post today. Thanks.

    • What a beautiful insight, Mary! It’s true, reclining is a different level of rest. And what God wants for us … even in the midst of difficulty. Thanks so much for taking time to read and share your heart today!

  9. I love the scriptures you chose to showcase. Fear can be paralyzing sometimes! Oh but our God is bigger! I had some transferred fears put on my life that I have overcome only with the help of the Lord. Thank you for this post this week. Linking up with grace and truth. Blessings to you Dianne
    Tammy recently posted…ABIDING HOPE – ROMANS 8:24-25 ABIDE SERIESMy Profile

    • Overcome … I love this word … and I need to overcome these fears on the road. In some ways, I feel like God has this in my life … just so I can lean in to Him. Especially since there is no reason I can think for it!!! I appreciate your sharing here today!

  10. I love this Diane! What beautiful imagery you have weaved into sharing such a powerful truth. It really resonated with some struggles I am facing right now. That feeling of things closing in … woah. Yes! The enemy most definitely wants to use our fears to pull us away from Christ and away from His plans for us, doesn’t he! And even though our fears may all look drastically different, they are all used against us. Thanks so much, friend, for sharing this important message of hope with us at #MomentsofHope! I’m so love it when you visit♥

  11. Living in “wide open spaces” is something I’ve never really considered in this context before, but its application rings true. Thank you for sharing this with us at Grace & Truth!
    Jennifer Clarke recently posted…Grateful Kids, Entitled WorldMy Profile

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