Lessons from the road

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always loved a good ol’ fashioned road trip. I’m sure part of my love comes from doing lots of these trips while growing up, and another part is just because I love driving and being out on the road across this amazing country where we are privileged to live. Whatever the reasons, the fact is: I love road trips.

Telling people we were driving from Michigan to Oregon got us some pretty funny responses. Only a few people thought it sounded fun, others expressed horror at the thought, others gave us pity and a few just shook their heads, confident our sanity had left us completely! When we told them we were doing it with the three kids, too, many shared their worst travel experiences, or said in a whiney voice, “Are we there yet?!?” Traci and I had a lot of laughter telling people about our trip. Wait until we tell them we’re doing it again in June!

But I seriously love the open road, and our family travels really well. The kids have learned how to engage each other, as well as how to entertain themselves when necessary. Traci and I enjoy the scenery and talking about life, work, family, sex (when the kids are sleeping =) dreams, Overboard Ministries, USANA, sports, news, politics, God’s amazing creative power as seen from the front window of our van, and lately, a lot about our future. Our road trips generally create great memories and the confined space gives us ample time to work on bonding and to grow in patience and grace.

Road trips are also full of the unexpected, and always provide ample learning opportunities.

Our’s started with a big lesson three and half hours before we left the Traverse City hotel we were enjoying. We were scheduled to leave by noon on Friday, but Thursday night, a loud noise from the car caused us both a great deal of concern. Since my knowledge of cars can be summed up in a sentence (“take it to a mechanic”), I knew I had to take it in before we hit the road.

17001618232_5995841516_kWe have a great mechanic in Traverse City, a fellow Christian who does excellent work with integrity (Kinney’s Automotive), and who happened to be just ten minutes from the hotel. I showed up when the doors opened Friday morning, and got on the schedule for an hour later. Shortly after I returned, one of the techs was taking a look at our van. Turns out the front driver’s side wheel bearings were bad (that accounted for the noise) and just for added fun, the brakes were nearly metal-to-metal and needed to be replaced. I had prayed for a quick, $12 fix with parts already in the shop. Instead I had a three and half hour repair, parts had to be ordered from a nearby shop and we were looking at a $500+ repair. And who doesn’t love road trips?!?

As I was driving back from the shop to the hotel (after I scheduled the appointment but before the tech had given an official diagnosis), I was lamenting the unexpected expense, whining to God about the lost time and was worrying about how the money and time would affect our whole trip. I was deep in worry when God taught me an important lesson.

Just as I was contemplating offering to leave AJ to work in the shop to pay off our bill, I hit a little clearing on the side of the road and guess what I saw? The sun was coming up on the horizon.

Honestly, I was instantly cut to the heart at the site of the sunrise. Maybe that sounds silly to you, but to me, I was reminded that the God who created the universe, the God who “makes the sun rise up in the east” was the same God who cares intimately about me and my life, you and your life, and the lives of every individual on the planet. He is the same God who has provided for our family during this season of transition in ways we could never have planned or imagined, and the same God who was going before us on this trip. As I thought about the sunrise, I felt silly about how caught up in worry I had been just moments before.

I confessed my worry to Him, and returned to the hotel ready to gather the family, load up the van and hit the road. What did God do thru all of this?

  1. He helped us discover a super loose wheel bearing pack that would have failed on the road. What happens when they fail? According to a bunch of online testimonies, your wheel can actually fall off! Imagine that happening at 70 mph!
  2. We also discovered that our brakes and rotors were in dire need of repair — another item I’m glad we corrected before barreling down the rockies at 80mph (I love the speed limits in Utah and Idaho!).
  3. Before we left town a friend asked to meet us at a local McDs, and he gave us $210 for travel expenses.
  4. Despite all the delays, we ended up arriving at our destination at precisely the right time — to the minute!

It’s crazy how often we get caught up in worry, fear or anxiety when we serve the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I don’t think I can even count all the times He has shown up big in our lives, or provided a friend, some rest, a meal or a few bucks “at just the right moment” and yet when faced with a minor auto repair, I panicked.

Yet God is so good to us, and Friday morning He cleared the sky so I could see the sun come up (that’s right, all you Northern Michiganders have me and my sinful worry to thank for Friday’s glorious sunrise!) and reminded me of His limitless power and ability to provide.

How are you doing in trusting Him today? Does a worry — big or small — have you distracted from what He is doing in and around you? Maybe you need to make Philippians 4:6-7 your prayer today: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s holiness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (The Message).

It’s going to take us three, twelve-hour days, to get to our Oregon destination, and along the way, I’m going to try and keep worry in its rightful place. How about you? Maybe you need to take the family on a road trip and see what God has for you, too!

Go ahead and take the plunge, life — even road trips! — are better on the water.

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