Friday, June 12, 2009

Slime Balls on the Road to Nowhere

[Article 4 of “Men or Mules” Series]

By faith Abraham…left his own country, not knowing where he was to go. --Hebrews 11:8

“Phhhhthwattt! How can you be putting these in your mouth? They’re disgusting!”

If you’ve never hand-picked wild Concord grapes on a New England summer day, well…don’t. Once you’ve punctured the thick, rubbery skin, your reward is a mass of seeds securely sealed in a slimy ball of sour pulp. And, here are my wife and kids, happily tangled in wild vines endlessly strung up the trunks of wild maples, on a hot, dusty road in a wild corner of Vermont. Where ARE we, anyhow? And, how do I herd these grape munchers back into the car to get where we’re going? (If it even exists!)

That was 18 years ago and, no—we never got there. The rest of that day was spent negotiating back-country Vermont roads with increasing speed—as we became increasingly lost—in search of some elusive “must-see” destination listed in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Remote New England Places That Don’t Exist.

Janette—that’s my wife—is never anything but gracious. A few days later, when I was in a better mood, she suggested that those fifteen minutes of grape-wrangling were, for them, the highlight of an otherwise fruitless summer day.

So nowadays, our road trips are more like “mystery rides.” We usually have a destination in mind, but allow plenty of time to brake for unexpected adventures.

Of all the styles of guidance God uses in my life, my mind still has the most trouble with the “Road to Nowhere” style. He gives me a long-term destination, but I get so busy hunting for it that I have no patience with all the “stuff that comes up.”

Abraham struck out westward by faith to occupy an unknown land. But, hundreds of years later, it would be his great-great-great-extremely-very-great-grandchildren who would finally inherit that country. And along the way, God would fashion them into a mighty nation worthy of this “land of milk and honey.”

Do you ever find yourself so tangled up that you despair of ever reaching the place where God’s taking you? Stop and munch the grapes! Help your neighbor, spend time with the family, and mentor the weak. And when you eventually get there, you can look back and see how all that “stuff” prepared you to inherit the land!