I love road trips. Perhaps it’s because I love vacation and road trips usually mean vacation. When our children were young, we took a vacation every summer without fail and those vacations usually involved some type of road trip. After weeks of running around at work to get everything squared away so that I could leave, after days of packing everything imaginable for a family of 5 for whatever adventure we were heading out for, I loved the feeling of hopping in the car and driving away. We were leaving behind all the pressures of our everyday routine for something new; a new place, a new pace, new scenery, and what would become new memories.
Scott always drove the first leg, (and sometimes all the legs) of the journey. He likes to drive more than ride. And within 30 minutes of hitting the road, I would always fall asleep! That is what female pastors who are wives and mothers of 3 young boys do when they sit still. They fall asleep! It was wonderful.
The only problem was that I was always the co-pilot. Keep in mind, this was before the days of GSP, Garmin, Google Maps, etc. Scott has a pretty good sense of direction, but he can easily get turned around and I liked pouring over the maps, especially when we were in a new place. So, usually we were a good team. Except when I wasn’t awake!
One time, we left home and as usual, I feel asleep. I wasn’t worried, as we weren’t going someplace totally new and Scott seemed to be clear on the route we were taking. While I was sleeping, he stopped for gas. I was vaguely aware that we had stopped but ignored it and went back to sleep.
I woke up about an hour later and as I looked outside the window, I saw a water tower with the name “Valdosta” on it. I said, “Scott, why are we near Valdosta?” He was like, “What do you mean?” I replied, “It says Valdosta on the water tower. Why would we be near Valdosta? Valdosta is no where near where we are headed!”
Sure enough, we were on the outskirts of Valdosta Ga. We were supposed to be headed to the Smokey Mountains from Jacksonville. Valdosta was not on our itinerary. Neither was the hotel outside Atlanta that we ended up staying in because we had mistakenly gone so far off course in the wrong direction. He had gone in the wrong direction when he left the gas station and he had no Siri blasting in his ear, “make a U- turn!”
But isn’t that just like life? You travel the highway of life with a general sense of where you are planning to go and how you are going to get there. Then one day you wake up and discover you have somehow veered off course. Or you hit a roadblock or a dead end and must take a detour. The journey of life is never a simple matter of going from point “a” to point “b”. It is a constant series of unexpected events and curve balls that necessitate constant course corrections. We are often called to the business of “recalculating”; reimagining our hopes and dreams and goals in life.
The good news is that we don’t have to make those course corrections alone. God is always with us. God works in all kinds of ways to help us in finding our way through the detours, the dead ends, and the traffic jams of our lives.
This summer in worship, we be exploring the lessons we can learn from some Old Testament characters about how to allow God to function as our “spiritual GPS” when we encounter the unexpected and unplanned in life. In our “Recalculating” message series, we will look at Elijah, Ruth and Naomi, Gideon, Rahab, Samuel and Hannah to explore the ways that God led them in responding to unexpected events or took them in unexpected directions. Along the way, we might just discover that sometimes, the greatest adventures in our lives occur when we embrace moving off our maps and simply trust our journey to our God who is with us in all the twists and turns of life.
This Sunday we begin with one of the stories of Elijah which is found in I Kings 19. You might want to read both I Kings 18 and 19 to get a fuller picture of where Elijah is in his journey in chapter 19. As we encounter Elijah, we will explore the importance of taking advantage of a “Rest Area” along the way.
I look forward to seeing you in worship this week and diving into this message series. I also hope that during these longer days of summer, you might take advantage of the opportunities to connect or re-connect with your neighbors, friends and family. Summer is a great time to recharge your batteries and your relationships with one another. And maybe invite a friend to worship, or Sunday School, or a neighbor child to VBS or a youth to BMW. Remember, the number one reason folks visit a church, at any time of year, is because someone invited them!