I got back from my solo, nine-day road trip a day ago. As I traveled, I saw “back to school” everywhere. Like many of you, I am always sad to see summer end. I love summer and all it brings. I grieve as I see it replaced by fall, and I reluctantly pry each finger open and make myself let go. It was always my saddest time of year to see my kids leave that first morning of school. I liked them home with me — all the time!
I was thinking this morning of you, my friends, as many of you have kids back in school from preschool to college, and every grade in between. After the big, exciting first day of back-to-school when the backpacks are gone and the pictures are posted, it may seem the house is too quiet or even empty. I understand that pain.
Is today a day you need to be reminded of how much you are loved and cherished by God? “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God?” (Ephesians 3:16-19)
As a mom who has already passed this bend in the road, take heart in knowing that you are never alone. Jesus is walking this road with you every step of the way. He knows your thoughts before you do, and He is just where He was yesterday — with you on this journey of watching your kids grow up before your eyes. You see your baby replaced by a toddler, and your toddler turn into a school age child. He understands not only the joy but also the loss, as your kids become more independent with each passing day. Again, you’re not alone. This is all part of His plan. Stay brave and strong.
When I was on my driving trip last week, I was amazed by all the twists and turns in the road. I estimate I drove over 2,000 miles in 6 states. I couldn’t believe how much construction happens all over the roads of America. It is so frustrating, but I braced myself as I dodged big orange cones that trucks had bumped out of line … driving next to what we call “the death wall” (the concrete wall) for miles on end next to endless trucks … the uneven bumpy roads … stop and go traffic that hits completely out of the blue … and merging as one lane disappears while cars zip in front of those of us playing by the rules. It is stressful and sometimes even emotional. As much as these frustrations pain us, it is all necessary so we can continue to have good roads in our future.
On the other hand, you have the great part of driving when you break free of ‘the death wall,’ the orange cones, the uneven rough lanes, the stops and starts, the trucks and other cars. This is the part of the drive that I love — being on the smooth open road alone with your music, your thoughts and great scenery. It’s not a drive … it’s, now, become a journey. This is what I look forward to; this is what makes it worthwhile and what makes me appreciate these moments all the more. I hold in my memory those smooth roads when I am in the midst of the frustrating craziness of the construction. Both are necessary!
I love the beauty and distinctness of each road, town, and state. It’s an adventure because I am not really sure of what is coming up next (could be good or it could be bad, but that is what the journey is all about). In the small towns I love to observe the people and the simple but clear choices of where to go. In the cities I’m overwhelmed with delicious eating choices and delightfully huge gas and snack stops (even the bathrooms are stellar). In the country, I am just praying for a place with a single gas pump and a one-stall bathroom tucked way in the back between the extra cases of cokes and beer. The worst case scenario, is a big fluffy tree and AAA to bring me a can of gas. Yes indeed, it’s a journey … an adventure. That’s why I like to drive.
It seems amazing to me to have already experienced so much before I even arrive at my destination. I already have stories, thoughts, ideas and tales from the road — good and bad. Interestingly, this journey isn’t even the best part. The reason I am making the journey is the people waiting for me when I arrive. That’s the real reason for the road trip, after all. It is what is waiting for me after I finish each leg of my trip — the people I love. I am refreshed, encouraged and renewed after each stop and start. As I turn onto the last corner of the last road of the last leg of my return trip, after a long journey, I see my husband and I see that I am finally back home. Was it all worth it? You bet. Am I rejoicing to be back home with the one person who loves me most of all? Absolutely!
Our life is like a long road trip — full of adventure but also full of twists and turns. There is the unexpected, the delight, the joy, the sorrow, the pain, the frustration, the coming, the going, the good times, the bad times, the enduring, the struggling, the disappointment and the thrills. Knowing Jesus more each day is the journey. Turning that last corner, of the last road of the last leg of my return trip, after the long life journey, I see my Jesus and I see I am finally home. Is it worth it? You bet. Am I rejoicing to be home with the one person who loves me most of all? Absolutely!
“For our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ!” (Philippians 3:20)