This is my first week back from a 2 week road trip out west . . . With my family . . . In a minivan . . . Out west . . .
Now let me state at from the get go, that this was no National Lampoon’s Vacation. We didn’t run off the road in the desert, no red ferraris, and our destination was not Wally World.
We did however, cover 14 states in 11 days. We logged over 4,000 miles in the van and spent over 60 hours in driving time alone. We hit 8 national parks including the Grand Canyon, Mammoth Caves, and the St. Louis Arch.
About halfway through this trip, I realized that there was a process at work in me that was both refining and correcting me. You see, as a family, we spent every day together all day and even slept in the same room almost every night. That brought to the surface some raw nerves and some occasional aggravation as you might expect, but the unique thing about a road trip, is that there really was nowhere to run. Nobody could go off into their own room and sulk. There was no chance for me to skip out and let Linda handle this one. We were in it together, and we either had to work it out together, or be miserable together!
I was prepared to have a fun and challenging road trip together, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of the unintended consequences of this trip, was a closer sense of family. Equally, I found a heightened sense of commitment to my role as father and husband. Linda and I had a ton of time to talk, listen to books, listen to the radio together and just enjoy the road.
It wasn’t all a bed of roses. I only followed through on the “don’t make me pull this car over” threat, twice. Yes, I honestly pulled the car over . . .
But this road trip was a sanctifying event in my life. From the awe inspiring beauty of the Grand Canyon, to the living of life together with my family, this trip brought me a little closer to completeness.
God convicted me at multiple levels about my temper, my tendency to withdraw, my patience (or lack thereof), and my addiction to comfort. I was also encouraged by forgiveness, by the scope of this amazing nation, by the joy of family, and by visiting a small church in Flagstaff, AZ that reminded me that I am a member of a broad and deep movement of God in human history!
It seems strange to call a vacation a spiritual experience, and yet for those who are His, any experience, can be viewed as His hand growing us along in our walk with Him!
On the practical side, don’t go to the Grand Canyon if you are afraid of heights . . . As my oldest said, while looking over the edge, “that’s so far down that if you fell, you could write your will before you hit the bottom.” There are a lot of mountains in Colorado. Don’t wait until the middle of nowhere, Utah to buy gas unless you want to spend the $4.79 per gallon. Vegas is not kid friendly (who knew!?). Go to church even when you are on vacation, you might just find something moving about the fact that there are believers in other places!
We made memories. We lost our patience and our tempers. We apologized to each other. We did life together. And I feel like God did some things in me on the open road, that He has never done in the wide open spaces of home!