On the Road Again - July, 2019
A glance at the title will have at least some of us humming the old Willie Nelson tune of the same name – old, in this case, meaning from 1980. The song came to mind for me as I began to pack for the drive to Utah to visit my grandson and his family. That will be three to four days of driving each way to cover the round trip of 4,034 miles.
For those of us with even longer memories, the phrase “road trip” conjures black and white scenes from Bob Hope/Bing Crosby movies. They did a series of road movies, with minor variations to the plot and with locations provided largely by Hollywood’s stagehands. “The Road to Morocco,” for example, was filmed in southern California’s Buttercup Valley, later to be the site of the Return of the Jedi in Star Wars Episode V.
How old is the road trip genre? The Gospels depict Jesus on a convoluted road trip, again, with variations in details, but with the same basic plot and cast. This summer, when I return, we’ll be following Jesus on the road from Galilee to Jerusalem, eventually finding his way to heaven itself. It’s quite a journey.
Some are happy to be armchair travelers, taking their trips vicariously through book or film. Other prefer to be on the road again in real life, in search of the new and the different, but with one eye always open for a Starbucks.
There is no such thing as a vicarious faith journey. We either live out our faith in our daily interactions with others or we don’t. As the old hymn goes, “Jesus walked this lonesome valley; he had to walk it by himself. Oh nobody else could walk it for him.” So it is with our own faith road trips. Nobody else can walk it for us. We have to walk it ourselves. When we get to the end of the trip, what will we tell our God about the people we met along the way and the way we cared for them? It could be, like Crosby/Hope films, a story with a happy ending.
“It’s a long, long road, with many a winding path. While we’re on our way to there, why not share?”
That line, of course, comes from the Hollies. But let me leave you with another from Jesus: “Where I go, you cannot follow me now, but you shall follow me afterwards.” As followers of Jesus, we will all, sooner or later, be on the road again.