There’s something about a family road trip that feels like a simmering pot of stew. And the longer it’s simmering, the less broth there is and you start to see what kind of meat and potatoes are actually in the pot.
You see what it’s made of.
I can cheerfully turn around and pass many lovely little snacks and treats and sippy cups and cars and crayons and paper and books for those first few hours of a road trip. You dropped your special red crayon again? No sweat! I’ll do a yoga contortion that will meet all your needs and more! You wanted raisins but now you want crackers...but, wait, now you want a granola bar? Who cares! I can be a short order vending machine for all your whims and fancies!
It’s those last few hours, as the fun has worn down, the “are we there yet” has set in, and my gusto has wained that is the real test. I’ve lost my joy of service and sacrifice to my children and all their needs and desires. My fervor to serve and sing songs and help everyone has simmered away. The red potatoes are starting to burn at the bottom of the pot.
And I’m car sick.
Craning my arm to reach the out-of-reach stuffed lion, I remembered a letter from St. Paul that I memorized in college. I heard it faintly - and then it came back full force. God’s word does stuff like that. Like someone added a new batch of broth to my pot with each word that I remembered:
"Lay aside every weight that hinders....in your struggle you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood...."
There has not been any sacrificing to the point of shedding blood in this situation. Or, really, any situation, aside from the actual birth process (no small thing, to be sure). I think I once bloodied my knee and held on to Robby as a baby and kept him safe when I slipped. Again, not really what I am talking about here.
What a fresh (and intense but helpful) perspective.
Car sick? Nope, no bloodshed, keep going!
Tired of extending grace? No bloodshed, let's give more grace (it's always there)!
I'm OVER all the things? But not any bloodshed yet, dig deep and get over OURSELVES instead.
Attitude and a funny stomach? Not close to bloodshed. Roll down the window and take a fresh breath.
And of course it's not about the road trip, friends. It is NEVER about the road trip. That's just a slice of my entire life concentrated, pressed down and shoved into a van for a few hours.
When I simmer down out of my own power (or never turned toward God at the start) then I see what I am really made of. I'm impoverished and in need of help.
(God's Spirit is actually translated The Helper - thank God!).
I need help laying aside every weight (and whiny attitude and comfort seeking stance) to run the race with endurance.
The race full of grace toward the resurrected life.