The grass ends at the Colorado/New Mexico border. There are some of you who are probably saying, “Actually, Steve, that’s not true since the new laws went into effect in New Mexico on July 1.” Let me make myself a little more clear – I’m talking about actual grass, that green stuff that carpets the ground and which ceases and desists when one crosses from Colorful Colorado to the Land of Enchantment (a nickname bestowed upon New Mexico by someone who obviously didn’t spend a lot of time there). I would not have known this botanical truth if not for one familial circumstance. I own a dog who refuses to do her business on anything but genuine, grade A turf. If I had been aware of this particular canine phobic condition two weeks ago, last week’s Yohn vacation choices may have somewhat varied.
We’re a family who likes to road-trip. Our traveling motto is “It’s about the journey, not the destination”. It is this philosophy that took my family on a very long day-trip to Amarillo, Texas, last year. This ideology is what led my daughter and me a few years back to travel to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, for a cheeseburger and chocolate shake at a particular diner we saw online. Vacation begins when you exit your door and continues until you arrive back home.
There is a second motto that guides our travels, although this one is more reluctantly accepted – “Why make a fifteen minute gas and bathroom stop when we can stretch it out to an hour?” While each of the party of humans had a hand in one delay or another this trip – the top of Steve’s sandals had become mysteriously crusty with some foreign substance, Nancy’s sunglasses had disintegrated in her hands, Madeline had already read all of her books and it wasn’t even day 2 yet – the primary culprit for our extended visits to Trinidad, Raton, and that scary off-ramp location where they sold genuine Indian moccasins, genuine Mexican serapes, and genuine-ish Burger King cheeseburgers was our neurotic mini-Schnauzer.
Each time we left the freeway, we found ourselves cruising the streets looking for a small patch of grass where the dog could hop out and stretch what needed stretching and empty what needed emptying. But finding grass in New Mexico and Arizona is tougher than finding a non-felon in a Raiders locker room. We’d look around banks, churches, schools, and parks, but the only places that you could find the color green were on the pinyon pines of New Mexico and the saguaro cacti of Arizona, and in the overflowing cash registers of the moccasin stores. But, despite the aggravation of our second motto, the attitude of our first motto always won out. Certainly, there was the occasional time when the driver needed to be reminded by his wife that every unplanned and extended stop was still part of our family-time joy. But overall we laughed and loved through every weird and unexpected minute.
We’ve got one journey in this life. It starts at birth, and from that moment on we’re driving toward our final destination. So many get tired of their journey. Others are terrified because they are unsure of their destination. Once we have become Jesus followers, we can truly enjoy life the way God intended because both our journey and our destination are beautifully set.
As believers in Christ, we should celebrate the path that God takes us down. It’s filled with blessings and opportunities, grace and purpose. Even when life takes an unplanned detour and we feel like we’re trapped circling around looking for a patch of green so that we can get back on the road again, we have to remember that’s part of the journey, too. Just because you don’t feel like you’re making progress doesn’t mean that you’re not making progress. Without those side detours, my family wouldn’t have experienced being tailed by a cop until someone distracted him by running a red light right in front of us (thanks, buddy), getting the death-stare by a street gang while my wife wisely encouraged me to maybe find another gas station, scrambling to make a U-turn while going the wrong way on a one way street (twice), and finding a way to crawl through the same tunnel in Phoenix three times going the same direction in stop-and-go traffic in the span of 45 minutes (I still have no idea how I pulled this off, but Stranger Things has me thinking that it has something to do with the Upside Down). Without our life’s detours, we often would not have met many of the people we know or grown from the lessons we’ve learned or touched some of the lives we’ve changed. Ultimately, it’s God’s journey – we’re just following His GPS.
But, like those long, hot five hour drives from Fresno to Anaheim when I was a kid, there is something to be said for the destination, too. At the end of those drives, we arrived at Disneyland, and suddenly the drive felt like nothing. At the end of our lives, we arrive in heaven. I’m guessing that once we see the face of our Savior, we’re not going to be griping about the past. Thus, for Christians it is about both the journey and the destination. On the journey we grow and experience and learn and serve. Upon arrival, we celebrate and worship and stand in awe in the presence of our Creator. Just a heads up, though, if my family and I end up late for the great Bema Seat judgment, it’s probably because we’re cruising around the back of the courthouse hoping that God planted a few patches of green alongside the streets of gold.