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WESTWARD (OOPS! I MEAN, NORTHWARD) HO!

As I write this, we are hurtling along I-65 at 70 miles an hour. A lot of pretty scenery is zipping past my window. Thick growths of trees and tall rock-faced walls line either side of the highway. When we first started out this morning, Spanish moss and kudzu clung to some of those trees. We are intrigued, especially by the kudzu, for some of the trees are so heavily covered that they almost look like alien beings from another planet. My favorites, though, are the crepe myrtle trees. Alabama has them everywhere and they are beautiful and fully in bloom.
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Farms dot the rolling hills—some of them large and well-kept, and others old and ramshackle with rusted out cars and broken-down equipment scattered across their yards. We see horses and cattle here and there, and have even viewed a few buffalo. We cross an occasional creek with tree-lined banks and drive over wide rolling rivers on great steel spans. It’s Sunday and as the morning has progressed, we see the parking lots of the churches we pass beginning to fill. Most are little country churches, but a few are large multi-million dollar edifices.
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It’s a bit overcast at the moment, and a haze blurs the views in the distance. The sun was beating down a while ago when we stopped for a quick break, though, and burned the back of my neck as I stood outside the car for a few minutes. Dozens of songbirds filled the air with their calls in that particular place, and the insects in the field next to the car were almost as loud.
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We’ve passed some unusual sights—four or five buzzards feasting on roadkill by the side of the highway; a huge missile on display at a rest area near Huntsville, AL; a burned out patch about a half-mile long where last weekend when we were headed in the other direction, we saw the grass and trees along the road fully ablaze.
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I’m noticing the scenery, and Bob is, too, but he’s also paying attention to the vehicles around him (good thing!) and every once and a while he’ll say things like, “There’s a car from Ontario, Canada” or “Look at the cathedral-style windows on that RV!” More often than not, though, he’s commenting on the reckless driving of someone around us, or a speeder or someone tailgating us. He gets aggravated, and I can’t say that I blame him.
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I always think of the pioneers who traveled across our country in wagons or on horseback when we make a trip like this. We resign ourselves to a long day in the car, or two if it is a longer journey, and like the little kids we used to be, can’t help wondering, Are we there yet? as we squirm in our air-conditioned seats and nibble our way across country to pass the time. Seventy miles an hour? Seven hundred and fifty miles or even a thousand, in a day? Leaving Montgomery before breakfast and arriving back in Hammond in time for supper? Could those pioneers have imagined such things in their wildest dreams?
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What boggles my mind is the fact that I can write this on my laptop as we speed down the highway, or I could watch a movie if I’d like. I can talk on the phone as we travel. Julie called a little while ago from her car as they were on their way to church, to my car as we were just about to cross the state line. Amazing! Why, I can even call Laurie in Ecuador if I want to from anywhere along the highway! Others who travel in grander scale than we do may even have all the comforts of home in their big RV’s—refrigerators, microwaves, TV’s, bathrooms, etc. We’ve come a long way since the pioneer days, but we’ve even come a long way in the last ten or fifteen years.
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The highway stretches like a smooth gray ribbon before us. No rutted trail through tall prairie grass for us to follow on this journey. If we want to stop for a quick bite to eat we pull off and go through a drive-thru, or if time were not a consideration, we could even go in to a nice soft booth and have someone wait on us and bring us a full, piping hot meal. No need to hunt for a rabbit and build a campfire to cook it. A cool drink is at our finger tips in the cooler beside me. Air conditioning, reclining seats, and stereo make the trip comfortable and pleasant. And if our trip is not over at the end of the day, we can find a clean bed and a shower at the next exit.
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Would you say we’re a little spoiled? Compared to how those pioneers traveled, I’d say we certainly have it easier, but I’m not sure if I would say that we’re spoiled. All this modern technology is available to us and a result of man using the intellect and resources that God gave us. When used properly it is fine. There’s nothing wrong with having a pleasant and comfortable trip; with being able to get from Point A to Point B rapidly; with being able to talk with our loved ones on the other side of the country or the world instantly.
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We are spoiled, however, when we cannot leave that comfort zone, or give up our little luxuries and technologies when asked to do so, or for the benefit of someone else. Laurie and Fernando live in a somewhat modern city in Ecuador and, although standards are not up to what you would expect here in the USA, they enjoy many of the conveniences we have here. I often think, though, of missionaries who have to travel by boat down the Amazon River, or fly into remote areas, or who live much like the people they are ministering to in some jungle or desert location. They have sacrificed much to serve the Lord where He led them.
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We’re not all called to be missionaries in remote areas, however. We live in a land of plenty—plenty of the necessities and plenty of the luxuries, as well. We’ve come to expect those things; in fact, we take them for granted. I sometimes feel guilty about how much we have and how easy our lives are, compared to what most of the rest of the world experiences.
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We don’t need to feel guilty about the life God has given us, though. It is by His grace that He has put us in the time and place we are in. It is by His grace that we have the homes and food and water, technologies and medical care, lifestyle and freedom that we have. It is by His grace that we have heard the Good News of the Gospel and that it is freely available here to anyone who will listen. For some reason the Lord has given us more, but we must remember that He tells us in His Word “…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…” (Luke 12:48)
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Compared to those who have gone before us, compared to billions around the world today, our journey through life here on earth is smooth and comfortable. Oh, sure, there are bumps and ruts and roadblocks, twists and turns and detours for all of us along the way, but we have it a lot easier than most. We need to pray that God will open our eyes to how we can use what He has given us for His glory. We should not feel guilty, but grateful to Him, and be willing to share His love and the things He has given us with others. Let us not be so spoiled by what we have that we cannot sacrifice if we are called upon to do so. Our destination is just up the road. Enjoy the journey along the way, but make it count for eternity, too!
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