The trip you can't afford to miss (part one)

Think back to your childhood. What are your most vivid memories?

I would guess that many of your clearest recollections are from trips you've taken. Most great stories are about a "quest" - Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings, King Arthur in Monty Python... the reason these stories resonate so deeply is that they represent the story. 

We're all on a quest. Many of us just don't know it. 

Our van broken down in Bishop, CA in July 2002. 

Our van broken down in Bishop, CA in July 2002. 

2002 was a big year for me. I got married in April, graduated from Louisiana Tech in May, and hit the road in June. (I spent a number of years as part of a group called The Common Ground Band along with our student pastor Jason Howell.) We were invited to lead worship at an event in Seattle that summer. They offered to fly four band members up, but there were five people in the band. We proposed a compromise: pay us the amount that the airfare would cost, and we would use that money for an epic, cross-country pilgrimage to Seattle. They agreed!

One hot summer afternoon, we left Ruston headed west. We had a "gig" lined up in Denver on the way, which ended up being more of a practice since there were more people in the band than in the crowd! The life of a rock star. From Denver, we would drive to Seattle through Wyoming and Montana, then head home down the Pacific Coastline. 

That trip turned out to be one of the great experiences of my life. It did not, however, come without some speed bumps.

The first great miscalculation of my young marriage was assuming that my wonderful bride would want to participate in the trip in the first place. What 23-year-old female would not want to spend two weeks with seven guys in a sweltering van? I had a lot to learn. 

Our "tour bus" was a fifteen passenger 1990 Dodge Van. The speedometer was broken; we surmised that it topped out around 60 mph. Something was wrong with the exhaust, so the floor board would get so hot on long trips that we literally could not put our feet on the floor, even wearing flip-flops! We could not run the A/C for long without the van overheating.

Our trip had all the makings of a fairy tale!

On these long cross-country trips, there are moments when you wonder what are we doing? That happened for me about 30 minutes past Denton, TX. "Are we there yet? Seattle is a long way from here." West Texas is tough. The roads are long, straight, dusty, and boring. It's disorienting. You find yourself looking forward to Dairy Queens. You long for a place called Amarillo, which boasts the smell of cow manure and a restaurant that sells overpriced steaks. People actually write songs about Amarillo after driving through Texas! 

We got a speeding ticket in Wyoming. It had been hours since we had seen another living thing, and we passed a cop hiding behind a cactus. Really, officer? We did, however, learn that our trusty van went a lot faster than 60 mph! 

In California, we ran out of money. I hit a lady's car in a parking garage in San Francisco. Then our van broke down (didn't see that coming!) for three days in the desert town of Bishop, California (see picture). Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong on that trip. And yet it became one of my great memories. 

Any one of these experiences would have ruined my day under any other circumstances. But because we were going to Seattle, they were bearable, even fun. In fact, the Pacific looked even bluer after driving through West Texas. 

A great destination changes everything. 

If you're a Christ-follower, you have an amazing destination - a destination that changes everything about the journey we're on. But lots of Christians don't really understand what the Bible teaches about our future hope. Over the next couple of posts, I'll explore a few things about that destination that we learn from Romans chapter 8. Stay tuned!