One of my favorite pastimes is driving, especially in the country. On Sunday afternoons in Charlotte, North Carolina, my friend Becky and I would each get a cold coke- in- the- bottle and drive and talk for at least an hour or so. The scenery would stimulate us. We would discuss everything and yet nothing at the same time. (Women can do that, you know.) We would share silly stories that would make us laugh and almost make the coke come out our noses. We would also contemplate things…asking questions that even Jesus would have to think about before answering! Some may say this whole exercise was a practice in futility, but for me, it was therapy.
There is just something about being in a car, away from distractions, especially if you don’t have cell phone service. Perhaps it’s the fact that you are moving as well. For me, sitting in a room, idle and isolated does not produce the same results. Maybe it’s a mind-game I play on myself thinking I’m actually making progress by conquering the road. I enjoyed those rides with Becky, but the trips alone are just as productive, especially driving in the country.
What is it about a country road? It’s different than interstate scenery. You don’t know what twist or sharp curve may be up ahead not to mention the unique lawn ornaments displayed in the middle of nowhere. The whole ordeal can make you tense up or burst out laughing at any moment.
Last year I had the opportunity to frequent a country road several times each week. I had decided to substitute teach again. (Something I had not done in almost 20 years.) The principal that called me most was from an elementary school way out in the county. One of my close friends worked there and had put in a good word for me. I still remember following her down that road on that first day I was to work. I cried all the way there. It seemed like we were never going to arrive. It was as if we went to the end of the earth and then a little further before we reached the school. I didn’t notice any of the scenery; only the 20 minutes of driving time that it took.
I also cried all the way home. My thoughts and worries on the way there were basically two…(1) Would I be able to do what I was asked to do? (2) Would I be accepted? On the way home, the concerns were (1) Did I do a good job and (2) Had I been accepted? The principal continued to call, and I continued to take the journey back there. The crying drives continued for a while.
At the school I found strangers that became my friends and kids who would would win my heart. One student hugged me so hard that I would be turned over and out of my wheelchair. There was this one forth-grade boy who wore cowboy boots to school almost everyday, even P.E. day. His voice was steady and he didn’t seem to get into a big hurry. He stole my heart. During free time or recess, he would draw pictures of monster trucks for me. He would tell me about going hunting or just his latest game on the computer. His mom worked at the school, so he was usually there early and stayed late after school. On the days I worked, I would try and arrive early. He and I developed this fun way of greeting each other. When he would see me from a distance – down the hall, he would yell my name and I would his as we would race to hug each other. One particular morning, he had those boots moving and I was rolling pretty fast also, so when we embraced, I flipped straight back and over to the side – out of my chair. He and his buddy who witnessed my fall were in shock. I was laughing and assured then that I was OK. Two teachers quickly ran over and did a two-man-lift putting me back into my chair. At the end of the day this same little buddy of mine helped me maneuver through a rough spot. From behind, he gently lifted my push-handles to get me over a hump through a doorway. Then he leaned down and whispered into my ear, “I didn’t want to throw you out frontwards too!”
Before I knew it the drive to and from that elementary school became something I enjoyed rather than endured. Instead of crying and fretting, I was singing and praying. I didn’t have a coke-in-the bottle, but sometimes I would get a diet Mt. Dew from the teacher’s lounge for the drive home. It was wonderful watching the landscape colors change as the seasons would. I especially loved the Christmas decorations on the John Deere Tractor all decked out with lights. The trees went from green foliage to brilliant colors then bare limbs. The next thing I knew, the spring blossoms were appearing. On that country road, the twist and turns were the same, but more than just the scenery had changed. I had also.
A change was needed in my life. I needed to be more dependent on the Lord and this journey caused me to become just that. It wasn’t about the road. It was about the journey! A journey that can make me tense up at times or simply burst into laughter. I’m grateful for the journey.
2 Corin. 4:17-18… For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.