“Set up signposts to mark your trip home. Get a good map. Study the road conditions. The road out is the road back. Come back, … come back to your hometowns. How long will you flit here and there, indecisive? How long before you make up your fickle mind? God will create a new thing in this land: A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!” Jeremiah 31:21 MSG
Every year between March and September I am on official duty as a footy mum.
This year my sons played their first year in NRL (Rugby League). Just to make things a little more interesting they not only played club football for their home town, but Representative football for the district as well.
While the boys are battling out against other children of their different age groups, I sit on the sideline and watch nervously… or excitedly. There are times when I hold my breath and wait for them to stand back up after hitting the ground or, another child too hard.
A few weeks ago, we were returning home from one such footy trip, with both boys in the car with me. The 4+ hours to drive home was long and the final stages of the drive I was tired and the boys were over sitting in the car. While there was no fighting, it certainly wasn’t too far from the surface and I was glad to turn into our street and driveway.
As a family living in country Queensland Australia, we do a lot of travelling. Most years, we travel around 30 – 40,000 kilometres per year. The roads in all the different directions are varied and require different types of driving.
It was during the last stages of the drive that I found myself pondering… my life was very like the different road trips I do.
There are the smooth straight roads
This is the main road heading towards the larger towns and cities where we go to some of the footy games, to doctor’s appointments and shopping for items not found in our small country town. Most of it is driven at 100km/hr except for passing through the tiny townships that you would miss if you blinked. The road is, for the most part, very straight.
This road is easy driving, smooth and uncomplicated. It requires very little activity of the brain and while this is easy it is also dangerous. While I am fresh and driving, it will cause very little trouble other than keeping a close eye on other drivers and the speed of my vehicle. But when I am tired, requires me to stay alert and take regular stops to ensure the safety of everyone on board.
Sometimes the road I travel is smooth going, it can cause me to become complacent and not be as alert as I need to be. It only takes a small lack of concentration to drift off course. It only takes another driver lack of sense to endanger my life. And it only takes the sun to be in your eyes for you to fall asleep quickly…
I find that I need to keep an eye on myself to see how alert I am staying with my life. As a Christian it is easy to drift. The world around me can endanger me, while my own attitudes and emotions can run me off the road (or off track). I can fall asleep if I don’t realise how I am going, and actively do something about it.
There are the rough country roads
These are the roads that are bumpy and need you to drive the vehicle at the speeds suited for the vehicle you drive and your driving ability. The wildlife is the biggest threat as well as too much confidence and lack of experience.
Kangaroos often sit in the grass and as you approach their position, they jump out in front of your moving vehicle and attempt to get to the other side of the road. This requires you slow as you see them and sometimes be prepared to use the brakes if they continue in their chosen pathway in front of you.
Country roads have surprises like potholes, corrugation and rain-washed channels. All of this requires you keep your full concentration and your eyes looking forward and each side of the road.
Night-time is the worst time to drive. Danger sits in the shadows on the side of the road as the wildlife are no longer easily seen, while in front of you – somewhere in the murky dimness are the potholes – that were somewhat easier to see in daylight.
My experience as a Christian that our walk here on earth is very like this type of road. Experience is not necessarily going to be an advantage to you with what jumps into your way. The night-time of our lives is often harder as we are unable to see what is ahead. There is no coincident that God the Word of God say that He is “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path”. There is also no coincident that He says that he is “a very present help in times of trouble”.
We don’t know what we are about to face or what is up ahead. Even if we have travelled the road many times before, there is no guarantee that it will still be the same this time. God is not only with us in the car, but He has driven it before us, and goes behind us as well. Our past, our now, our future is known and we have nothing to fear.
I ride alone
I ride a motorbike. The children at school that I teach religious instruction to, tease me that my bike is a “peewee 50”. I presume that they think that it is not big enough and powerful enough. My bike is a Cruiser… whatever that means! And for those that wish to tell me – I am really, really not interested. Oh BTW.. it is blood red in colour.
I find riding a motorbike to be an “interesting” thing to do. I don’t particularly enjoy it. I ride because I want to keep my ability to do so, and because I have not decided yet that I will sell it. I don’t like feeling the wind, I am not adventurous, and I miss my music. But… I don’t mind the challenge.
Sometimes I do things because it stops me from settling into a rut of “the usual” and it is a little bit different to what I normally do. Being that I am not an adventurous person, I sometimes need to step out of my comfort zone, even if I don’t like it.
It is also very lonely thing to do.
I don’t like times of being alone… accept with God, times when I choose to be alone with Him. But I don’t like it when I feel like I am going through something alone. I would rather have people around me, but that it not always possible. But when I am alone, I am always aware that God is not far away.
I am grateful, that my choice of vehicle that I ride is exactly that. It is my my choice. I can choose whether I ride a motorbike or a car, bus, train or airplane. Not so in my daily journey on this earth. Often those choices are made for me, often by circumstances beyond my control. It is how I cope with that journey that make the difference. Do I see it as a joy and a privilege or a complete drag? Do I see it as a growing experience or not?
Loud or not allowed?
When I travel with my children, the music in the car is very VERY loud. The car vibrates and I am sure that you can hear our car coming before you see it. Because we drive in the country, there is only the wildlife and the odd occasional town to bother with the sound. I make the children turn down the music before we get to the town and while we drive through the town… then it goes up again.
Driving with my husband is the opposite. We listen to very little music. He likes podcasts, sermons and music on as background. I feel my children’s eyes roll as they look at me. He will not allow loud music, and they are annoyed.
When I drive in the car by myself I can do as I wish. Sometimes I listen to loud music or I might listen to podcasts and sermons, and if I feel like it I have quiet reflections and time with God.
Living with others require that you “put up” with the things that they like and dislike. Often people clash by the differences that they have. Not one of us are the same. My children are not the same as each other, they are not like their step-dad. Teaching my children to negotiate with each other is necessary. Teaching them to respect others is also important.
I have people who are attached to my life that cause my road to be very rough indeed. They travel with me. For you it could be a family member, a church member, a community member. Sometimes people are a bit like hitchhikers, only travel with a for a short time. Others are with us for the duration of our life. Some people bring with us very loud music, or no music at all… or music we don’t like. Do you get my point?
God expects His children to get along, whether something is loud or not allowed. He expects us to respect those in authority over us. We do not travel our road by ourselves, and even if we do seem to be alone, we still must be thoughtful of those whose lives we touch.
There is no feeling like the feeling of returning to your own home. Really there is no feeling like when we turn to God. I don’t think I have to expand on this. Just turn to God. Turn the wheel of your heart towards Him.
Ride with the One and Only
Whatever road you are on, whatever your choice of ride (or lack of choice), or whoever you ride with… the most important factor is the One who ride with us?
I often look at my chaotic, “non-trouble-free” life and wonder what it would be like.I wonder what it would be like to have smooth roads to be on.
Other times I say to myself “strap yourself in, it is going to be a wild ride” and all the while the One I strap myself to, is God.
“Thank you Father for the rides, I am hanging on to you. May I always have the courage to continue, accepting each and every ride…and every road, and look to You for the help for each and every one”