Each year the students of Chris Blake’s sophomore-level editing class at Union College produce the February issue of OUTLOOK. Since our overall theme for 2014 is discipleship, we asked the students to share, through their own experiences, what discipleship means to them.
The following article was written by Natalie Bruzon, a sophomore language arts education major from Altamonte Springs, Florida.
To view the print version (designed by Steven Foster, a junior communication major from Grand Junction, Colorado) see pages 20 of the February 2014 issue, available at outlookmag.org/print-issues.
“Let’s go to Miami for spring break,” suggests our friend, Kali. A united groan rises.
“I don’t think I can handle another road trip,” says Debbie.
I nod in agreement. “Don’t you remember what happened last time?”
In March 2013, five excited college freshmen set out on a 27-hour drive from Lincoln, Nebraska to Miami, Florida. Ready for a relaxing week on the beach, we never stopped to consider the horrors that could be involved in an overnight road trip.
By the time we reached Miami at 2 am the next day, we smelled of stale food and sweat. Burger wrappers littered the floor and flat Coke took over the cup holders. Napkins, both clean and dirty, lay on our seats, but we still struggled to rid ourselves of the fast food grease on our hands. Potato chip crumbs made us itchy all over. We desperately needed a shower, and we felt as if we had been awake for two days straight, which we had.
“We’re lost, Natalie,” complained Kali, making another U-turn. We’d been roaming the Miami streets for over an hour in search of my aunt’s house.
I tried to stay calm but annoyance crowded my voice. “Why don’t you use your GPS? Isn’t that what it’s for?”
“Kali’s phone is out of battery,” countered Debbie, giving me the look. “And yours is too, right? Maybe if you would have stopped sending flirty texts to that guy, you’d still have battery.”
After another hour of passive-aggressive conversation, we made it to her house and the subsequent week was everything we dreamed of. However, the memories of that road trip still make us cringe.
On the Road with God
My journey with God seems like that Miami trip sometimes. I remember when I started out, thrilled for what lay ahead. I expected difficulty, but I didn’t really understand what that meant. I kept the destination in sight and set out. Then it hit me. I grew tired and it stopped being exciting. It stopped being fun. It was only hard.
What went wrong? When did the enthusiasm die? More importantly, why did it die?
These questions have plagued me for many months. Talking to my friends, I recognize a common theme. We all started out our adventure with God bright-eyed and hopeful, but slowly the excitement dissolved and we are now confined to endless U-turns.
Tonight, I contemplate again these questions. As I sit on the floor of my dorm room, typing this article and eating blueberry muffins from Union Market, I remember another type of road trip I took as a child.
The Fun Road Trips
While I was growing up, my parents loved to go on adventures. Every summer, they would pile us into our Chevy Impala and set out across the country for two weeks. Some days we drove from sunrise to sunset; other days we hiked the Smokey Mountains or ran around in the Montana hills. IT didn’t matter what we did—we had fun.
I realize now that two factors made these long journeys enjoyable. First, the trip was the fun. We didn’t go on a road trip to arrive at our destination; instead, the road trip was our destination. Second, we took care of the little things. We packed the car with magnetic Checkers, Lois Lowry audio books, and 12-pack crayon boxes; Cheetos and Doritos roamed our trunk and orange Fanta rested at our feet.
In our adventure with God, sometimes we put too much focus on the destination. As Oswald Chambers says, “What men call the process, God calls the end.” joy is not only found at the end, it’s also in the journey. And what makes the road trip joyous is the details. Service, daily devotions, praise—these ingredients make a vibrant journey.
My dad likes to say, “Natalie, even if there weren’t a heaven, even if we died and that was it, I’d still be a Christian. The joy I have gotten out of my walk with God is unbeatable.”
That’s the kind of trip I want. At the end, when we’ve reached our destination, I want to heave a sigh of contentment and smile at the good times, not remember the horrors—the nasty burger wrappers, greasy napkins and itchy potato crumbs. After all, there is joy in the road trip.