Journey to Wisconsin in our red Cadillac
Story by Kristine Barnes
When I take a long road trip, with a specific destination, like a 20-hour drive to Wisconsin in the Fall, I am not where I want to be, but I’m on my way. My current location is only temporary. As I travel, I don’t focus on every boring mile, frustrated by the slowness of the journey, but on the next milestone. I set my cruise control to a valid speed freeing me up to focus on my surroundings. What are other drivers doing – are they too close, weaving, texting, trying to pass, hitting the brakes?
I watch for informative signs – is there construction ahead, is my exit coming up, are fuel and food available, is this a deer crossing area – reading the signs is similar to reading my Bible daily to keep me on track.
How about weather conditions? Rain can make the road slick, fog brings visibility down to barely, wind whips across the Indiana corn fields, trying to blow me off the road, the thick gray clouds obscure the sun. The heavy sky reminds me that the sun, like God, it is always there even when it can’t be seen.
Then there’s God’s Art gallery - the panorama moves from perfect Carolina-blue sky, to brilliantly backlit clouds in a dozen shades of gray. The leaf portraits come in fiery crimson and electric yellow, to a palette of gold and amber, to all brown and rust punctuated by deep green of the pines – what an amazing variety of patterns and hues, each as breath-taking as the last! There’s a field of windmill ballerinas dancing gracefully with arms outstretched to catch the breeze. A swarm of pepper-birds zipping back and forth in perfect unison before landing in a bare-branched tree that suddenly appears to be in full leaf! Amazing beauty and entertainment!
The drive is relaxing because we prepared ahead of time. Gary checked the car from bumper to bumper, fluid levels, belts, tire condition and pressure so we trust it to get us to our destination.
I have CD’s of my favorite classical and Christian music so I can listen to the radio or sing joyful praises to my Lord, relax and enjoy an orchestra, or to pray in silence in my scarlet cocoon.
On every trip, God pops in with his sense of humor. This trip it was the burger. When I was a child we had a Shoney’s Big Boy restaurant near our home. With mom and dad and seven kids, it was a rare treat to get to eat at any kind of restaurant. The Big Boy was even more special than that new drive-thru restaurant called McDonald’s. So, when I saw a billboard advertising Big Boy, I was immediately transported back to those wonderful hamburgers with that special secret sauce. It would be fun to stop and eat one, but it was an hour earlier than I wanted to stop for gas and it would take longer than I wanted to allow for food to eat at a sit-down restaurant, so I said, “Okay Father, if You are going to let me eat at Big Boy’s let there be a BP station there too.”
Sure enough, at the next set of Gas, Food and Lodging signs, there they were: Big Boy and BP! I had the most wonderful relaxing lunch sitting in a puddle of sunshine, munching on the historic Big Boy burger with special secret sauce. Perfect!
Maps and cheat-sheets kept me moving along the road without tension because I knew where I was headed, I knew where I needed to exit so there was no last-minute panic as I tried to decipher which way to go in the split seconds when the options arise. Did I mention it was 2014?
Now we have all sorts of electronic alternatives to give us directions when we travel. Some even speak to us! That eliminates the need to take our eyes off the road to glance at a map, and they warn us ahead of time so we know exactly where to turn. Maybe God does the same. If the bible is our road map, his voice is our GPS. We make the choice to listen to his voice and strengthen our relationship with him day by day as we travel through life under his direction.
When we are familiar with God’s Word and work to stay within his will, we can keep moving without panic, knowing we are headed the right way. There will still be times when we make a mistake and end up on the wrong road, but we can always turn around and head back in the correct direction. We may lose a little time…but we are not lost forever!
We recently had a Sunday School lesson on roads. The Journey to Bethlehem by Joseph and the very pregnant Mary, the Samaritan going way out of his way to help a wounded traveler, the entitled younger son taking off on the road to independence, Jesus setting his eye on Jerusalem, the road that would lead to his gruesome death, lost disciples shuffling down a road to Emmaus after losing their hope in their Messiah.
Roads can lead us to all sorts of places and situations. We strike out on our own, only to realize later that we don’t have the wisdom or strength we thought we did, so we humble ourselves and ask for God’s guidance. Sometimes we lose our way, and God appears beside us, surprising us as Jesus did to those Emmaus travelers. Sometimes we feel a nudge from God, but decide not to invite him to join us, and miss the opportunity to deepen our relationship with him. And sometimes, there simply are no road maps, plans, or certain directions available!
Now is the time we must learn to count even more upon direction from God. When we come to a fork in the road, He knows which direction is the better one. Just as with Jesus on the Emmaus-road, He is with us even if we are unaware of his presence or don’t recognize him. Today, He is not prone to making grand public appearances, although He will make a spectacular, unmistakable entrance when He returns in the End Time! So for us, for now, we use prayer, quiet time, and study his Word to help discern our way. We can trust God to be our Guide.
As I said at the beginning, where I am is not where I want to be. I’m on the way. My current location is only temporary. I focus not on every current mile, but on the next milestone. Earth is not our permanent home; we are only passing through. As Billy Graham said, “The Bible says that as long as we are here on Earth, we are strangers in a foreign land. There are enemies to be conquered before we return home. This world is not our home; our citizenship is in heaven. My home is in heaven. I’m just passing through this world.” I totally agree with Mr. Graham, The best is yet to come!
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