by Dale Reeves
This past Sunday at Christ’s Church, our senior minister, Brad Wilson, began a teaching series called “Road Trip.” As Brad said last weekend, “Road trips are interesting because they tend to be fun, they tend to be adventurous, and I’ve found that a good road trip teaches us something about ourselves. Typically, something is going to happen that you didn’t plan for or expect, and often how you handle those unexpected happenings goes a long way in determining how good or bad those trips end up being.”
In this teaching series, we’re taking a few road trips through Bible lands, stopping at certain places in which we will have the opportunity to learn something about God. Last week Brad told us about a bad beach experience he once had in Daytona Beach, Florida, because he listened to a family member and applied some “Australian Gold Tanning Accelerator Lotion.” You know how that turned out. He spent the next few days inside in pain rather than enjoying the beach with the rest of his family. The message Sunday focused on Moses and the Israelites being released from slavery in Egypt, ultimately being hemmed in at the beach in front of the Red Sea. You can see that message here: [CLICK for VIDEO] The unexpected trek that led them to the Red Sea was God’s perfect plan for delivering his people in a way that could only be explained by his miraculous power.
Get Out and Go
Author Victoria Erickson has said,
“Road trips are the equivalent of human wings. Ask me to go on one, any one. We’ll stop in every small town and learn the history and the stories, feel the ground and capture the spirit. Then we’ll turn it into our own story, that will live inside our history to carry with us. Because stories are more important than things.”
Many people have asked how I’ve been able to visit all fifty states in our country. Beginning with our honeymoon thirty-seven years ago, my wife and I drove cross country from Ohio to California and back, traveling the southern route on the way out there and returning across the middle of the country. We covered sixteen states together on that first trip. This was before my wife owned a National Parks Passport book, and so she doesn’t have stamps of all the national parks and monuments we visited on that first trip together. As a fun way of documenting our road trips, my wife began collecting postcards, magnets, and Christmas ornaments of the places we have been blessed to visit, and she has continued that practice to this day.
Several autumns ago, Karen and I experienced a great road trip in Michigan, enjoying the kaleidoscope of colors of their fall foliage, driving route M-22 along the Lake Michigan shoreline, passing through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, and traipsing through artsy small towns, while sampling some yummy cherry and pot pies.
We’ve been fortunate to travel with my brother and sister and their spouses on a few occasions as well, trekking throughout northern California many years ago and more recently, Boston and Cape Cod. We also were able to explore the beautiful White and Green Mountains and picturesque covered bridges of Vermont and New Hampshire with them, then we passed through quaint seaside towns on the way to our magnificent final destination, Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. We ate clam chowder and lobster almost every night!
A few years ago, Karen and I decided to drive the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway through the states of Virginia and North Carolina. We ended up driving more than 400 miles of this meandering 469-mile-long parkway. Because of some construction in a few spots, we had to get off the parkway for a few miles. The Blue Ridge Parkway is designed for slow-paced travel (45 mph or less), an experience free from the commercial traffic and congestion of high-speed highways. It was a breath of fresh air for us because we had the time to really take it in and enjoy it, driving through small towns in Virginia and North Carolina—including the boyhood home of Andy Griffith. Each day brought a new destination with new experiences of long-forgotten small towns, reminiscent of Sunday drives from times past.
When our daughters were preschoolers, and we had to make the 16-hour drive from Cincinnati to Daytona Beach, Florida, we would leave at 2:00 or 3:00 am and drive through the night so that our girls could sleep. We are way too old for that these days. Typically, we would caravan with Karen’s brothers and to pass the time we would talk with each other on walkie-talkies (pre-cell phone days!). We brought everything we could to keep the kids occupied on this long trip, including books, music, and new toys; and played lots of “road games” based on billboards, the alphabet, and license plates. And, due to some rockslides, road construction, kids’ poopy diapers, and other assorted accidents, there always seemed to be some sort of snag in the trip.
Detours are something none of us look forward to, either on a long road trip, or in life. If you’ve grown up in a big city, no doubt you know how motorists hate seeing the dreaded orange barrels that pop up—indicating that a road will be under construction for a certain length of time. Most of us are creatures of habit when it comes to our driving. We don’t usually look forward to having to learn to navigate a route that is foreign to us—and the older we get, the less we enjoy this.
What kind of road trips are you taking this summer either by yourself or with your family or friends? If you have recently taken a road trip, did you experience any unexpected turns along the way? What life lessons did God teach you through that experience?
Just google the phrase, “lessons learned from road trips” and you’ll find all kinds of great takeaways, tips, and things to avoid from a myriad of travelers. For instance . . .
- It’s important to enjoy the silences.
- Go off the beaten path.
- Photo ops are everywhere.
- The best experiences will catch you off-guard.
- There is no such thing as too many snacks.
- There is such a thing as too much luggage.
- Road trip inside jokes are the best inside jokes.
- Nothing is guaranteed. Fill the tank.
- Have a Plan B.
- Be spontaneous.
- You can’t do it all.
Go with God
As one blogger put it, “A road trip does more than just take you from point A to point B. It teaches you and changes you.”
So, what has God been teaching you this summer? What have you learned from a recent road trip this year? As Brad Wilson shared last Sunday, “When God leads, God goes.” God’s Word assures us . . .
“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NLT).
“The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121:7, 8, NIV).
“He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go” (Proverbs 2:8, 9, NLT).
[Wisdom will] “keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble” (Proverbs 3:23, NLT).
Jesus promises to be with us as long as we stay connected to him. As you set out on your road trip, always pray for his guidance and protection. And ask him for opportunities to be courageous and spread the name of Jesus on your trip. May God keep you safe and watch over you on your next road-trippin’ journey!