Many of my memories of childhood summer vacations revolve around the family car trips we took. At the time, long hot car rides seemed tedious, but I think I learned some things that are relevant to my Christian walk. (And, fortunately, after a summertime trip to Oklahoma City in the mid-1960s, my dad never bought another car without air conditioning.) I’m not suggesting that everyone should spend many hours of a hot summer day in a non-air conditioned car with three small children, but it is character-building.
So here are a few things I’ve learned:
1. In your patience possess ye your souls. (Luke 21:19, KJV) When we traveled, my brothers could amuse themselves with reading material, but I had motion sickness too much to dare look at a book. The positive side of this was that I always got to sit by the window. I watched the passing scenery and let my imagination roam free. Dad liked to drive until we got where we were going, so stops were few and far between and did not usually involve fast food. The monotony of central Illinois highways was broken by the pastel houses in Arthur and the occasional Amish buggy in that same area. After this point on the trip, even though we were probably only a couple of hours from Grandma’s house, in Terre Haute, Indiana, we’d get more impatient and fidgety. Patience was a hard lesson to learn, but we eventually realized that fussing didn’t get us there any faster. The trip was more enjoyable if we learned to watch for the landmarks and save our energy for when we were finally out of the car.
2. Bear with one another in love. (Eph. 4:2) Of course, we didn’t make these trips in absolute silence. We talked and sometimes sang, and my dad would often turn on the radio. However, we didn’t always like his choice. Dad would find a country music station or maybe a baseball game. (For some reason, I associate Cardinals baseball on the radio with night trips.) But as we got older, he would let us pick the station sometimes, too. I think we did learn something about compromise and not insisting on our own way all the time. And now, I get nostalgic when I’m driving at night and hear a baseball game on the radio.
3. The driver knows where he’s going. (Jer. 29:11) I was a backseat driver. Well, what do you expect? All I could do was watch out the window. It took me a long time to learn that Dad’s perspective from the driver’s seat was a lot more accurate than my perspective from the back seat. But he was a careful driver and we always arrived at our destination safely. I think I try to be God’s backseat driver, too. I have to remind myself that he has my best interests at heart and, even better than my earthly father, he will get me to my final destination.
If you travel with your family this summer, what will God teach you?