1,600 miles in a car over the course of 5 days – with 1,400 of it coming in only 2 of them – gives one a lot of time to think. After heading to Manhattan, KS, for my brother’s college graduation, I rode the 800 miles to Columbus, OH, with my aunt in her Prius. A day off to recoup and visit family, and I drove the final 600 miles in one day to bring my sister’s car back to Kansas City. Exhausting!
A few things I learned, or learned again for the first time (in order by their occurrence on the trip, but not necessarily in order of importance):
- There are trees east of Kansas! And hills, and rocks. What do you know about that.
- They call it classic rock for a reason. My aunt and her friend (who did all of the driving to Ohio) are big fans of the rock groups of the 70s. They seemed pleased that I knew at least most of the songs on the classic rock stations by their melodies. Tell you what – they just don’t make them like that anymore, and I don’t think they ever will again.
- Christian music doesn’t have to sound religious. In the midst of station surfing, they left it on “The Positive Alternative” for a good chunk without realizing it. The style was identical to any other pop station, and the lyrics weren’t overt enough to trigger the scan button. I’m not sure if this is always a good thing, but at least “Christian” music has evolved to the point it can be heard and perhaps liked before the non-religious tune it out altogether.
- When you’re not in the driver’s seat, you just try to enjoy the ride. I happened not to mind the music choices much, but I did not get to pick the station. I wasn’t in control of the route taken, the air conditioning, the number of rest stops, or any other “personal preference” aspects of the trip. But the other side of this coin is that I didn’t bear any responsibility for the trip, either. I wasn’t the one who had to stay alert to drive. If the police had pulled us over, it wasn’t my license they would have asked for. I simply got to ride along, and was grateful for the opportunity to save money on a plane, train, or bus ticket (as well as fast food, since we packed graduation party leftovers). In many ways, being a volunteer youth leader is like being a passenger. I do my best to care well for my “mini-flock” of boys each year, but I do not bear the ultimate responsibility for what happens in the ministry. It’s my joy to support the overall mission and goals of the youth ministry, even if I would have chosen differently. Most of the time, it is not my call, and I am perfectly fine with that.
I do my best to care well for my “mini-flock” of boys each year, but I do not bear the ultimate responsibility for what happens in the ministry.
- News of a death is never easy to take. It’s especially hard when it’s a young person, one you knew even casually. After enduring an unusual Sunday in the car without my media (normally I’m with my bride all day, eliminating the need for talking or texting), I found several posts on Facebook on Monday alluding to the death of a junior from one of the high schools represented in our ministry. I still don’t know many details definitively, but I can say it’s an extremely heartbreaking situation. I knew him when he was in middle school and a student at Sylvan Learning Center where I taught part time after school and summers. His friends and the school community had rallied around him and his family, praying for his recovery after an accident. My hope is that many high school students (and adults) will recalibrate their priorities to things that truly matter. My prayer is that students will ask the right questions as they consider their own frailty, and that the right people will be there to help answer them.
- When all you care about is getting home, you miss most of the scenery. I went “home” three times in the past week. I went home to my parents and brother, joined by my sister, to where I grew up and graduated three times – once from high school, two college degrees, all in the same city. Then I went home to the place of my birth, seeing my grandparents for the first time in 5 years. But that last journey home, back to Kansas City where I live now, where my wife is, where I worship, work, and play – that’s when I was barely conscious of the blur of miles as they flew by. So often we as Christians get “so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good.” Yes, we have an ultimate destiny that is so far beyond anything this earth can offer. But God created this world good, and He wants us to join Him in redeeming all of it. Not just saving souls for some other-worldly realm, but bringing hope and healing to here and now. All that is beautiful, good, and true – Christian or not – is a gift we should receive, enjoy, and give back to others.
God created this world good, and He wants us to join Him in redeeming all of it.
What have the mile marker prophets taught you in your travels?