Thursday, July 29, 2010

Arizona Adventures. Part 1: The Road Trip

About a week ago we loaded up a few vans, piled in some high school students, and headed east to the land of deserts, and heat and Steve Nash. That’s right, we went to the AZ. It had been a while since I’d driven for so long and I was reminded of the many reasons why I like road trips. You get to deal with back pain, people getting car sick, high way patrol officers, and… did I mention people getting car sick? Yep, road trips are awesome. One thing is for certain, though: no matter what happens, a road trip is always an adventure.

I think one of the simplest things a road trip does is remind you of all the analogies you can make between traveling and life. There are some great songs that tie in this idea too. For starters, there are country songs like, Life is a Highway. Or classic rock ballads like Journey’s hit, Wheel in the Sky. And then there are Lady Gaga songs…well, I don’t really learn anything from her songs; they just end up creeping me out like clowns and trips to the dentist. Anyways, I think at the core, a road trip reminds us of something we already know to be true: where we started is not where we will end up. Our road trip began in Downey, and a few hours later we ended up in Blythe (gross) and then finally found beautiful Prescott. A road trip reminds us that the same is true for life. We are constantly on the move, preparing for the next part of our journey. Where we started is far behind us, and the future is closing in on us. Our lives are filled with the memories of the roads we’ve traveled, and the pit stops we’ve made.

Interestingly, our youth group’s summer theme this year is “Join the Journey.” We’ve been talking about how every person is on a spiritual journey and how God is revealing himself to creation. (And, coincidentally, we went on a mini journey to Arizona, and listened to a lot of Journey music to help us truly realize this theme. Everyone loves Journey, right!?) I believe Scripture teaches us that every person, no matter what, is on this spiritual journey and is being made aware of His presence. We, then, have a choice to make: How will we respond to Him? We’ve asked our kids some tough questions this summer like, “Where are you really at in this journey with God?” Do you feel you are trying to follow God’s path, or are you following your own? And, will you follow God even when things don’t go the way you’ve planned?” Needless to say, it has produced some very honest and candid conversations. Out on the open road, I was reminded of this truth over and over again. As I sat in this driver’s seat and watched the miles add up, I couldn’t help but wonder “where is my life heading? What kind of adventure am I writing with the miles I travel?’

In his book, Western Theology, Wes Seeliger says that there are two types of people who give rise to two types of theology. You are either a “pioneer” or a “settler.” You either view life as a possession to be guarded, or a gift to be explored. A settler is someone who desires security. They build fortresses, establish towns complete with court rooms and law offices, and construct forts. A settler is a person who establishes themselves, and dares not to move. They protect themselves from danger and make sure they uphold the rules. A pioneer on the other hand, is someone who blazes trails. They aren’t content with building monuments, but would rather explore the unknown. They don’t spend time building systems to protect themselves from outside forces; rather, they are out in the wilderness, confronting and facing danger head on. Think about it: are you a settler or a pioneer? Is your life an adventure to be lived and experienced or something to be guarded and kept tame? Truthfully, I probably act more like a settler at times, but in the deepest parts of my soul I desire to be a pioneer. I don’t want to accept something just because someone says it’s so. Likewise, I don’t want to secure my life just because it’s easier. I want to be in the wilderness. I want to face the open road. I want my journey to be marked by reckless abandon, and ruthless trust in God’s leading, not my own.

I guess it comes down to a choice on how I want to view my life. Comfort is a nice thing to have in your lazy boy chair, but a lousy thing to settle for as a follower of Christ. I have to remind myself that Jesus didn’t come to make my life comfortable. He came to invite me on a journey. He tells me that sometimes this journey will be unsafe and dangerous. And he invites me to live like a pioneer, a traveler who is not afraid to face the open road. A road trip reminds us that we are travelers, apart of an epic journey. We are not the same people we were when our journey began, and we won’t be the same when our journey ends. We already know the beginning and end of our story (you know the whole creation and heaven thing). The middle, though, is left up to us. And I for one want to go on more road trips.

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