Always Take the Scenic Route

Pat and I have an ongoing disagreement when traveling.  I grow weary of watching the dreary scenery of interstate driving and trying to stay out of the way of semi-trucks that seem to dominate those highways.  I always want to take the scenic route not only for less traffic, but in addition to the varied landscape, there are always interesting finds along the way.

Pat doesn’t like the scenic route as much.  She likes to get where we’re going as soon as possible.  Often I will ask her if she’s afraid of missing an appointment, of which there are usually none.   I think we are all prone to pre-retirement days where we always seemed to run out of time even on vacations because our jobs constantly beckoned to us.  We were always on a timetable even on longer trips.

But now, well, we don’t have a timetable.  As I often comment, in retirement “everyday is a Saturday.”  I believe Pat is having a longer time making that adjustment when traveling.  And, when she occasionally agrees to the scenic route, she always ends up enjoying the ride, I think.  On one such diversion, we managed to travel about fifty miles in two and a half hours.  We both enjoyed a couple of small towns and stopping at a small eatery called Jacob’s Well.  It was really cool.  But, we finally had to find the interstate so we could get somewhere eventually.

Now for a little side trip.  The interstate system, not the scenic route, is unparalleled in moving goods around the country.  It probably is a good representation of what makes this nation, or any nation with a like structure, superior in providing needed goods to its citizens.  There are strict timelines and schedules that many analysts of supply side logistics have spent time developing.  No doubt advanced business degrees address this aspect carefully.

In fact, business models are taught in leadership seminars that promise increased productivity, sales and profits.  After all, if your business is not growing, it’s probably shrinking.  Few things remain static and stable.  In our capitalistic society, growing a business, working hard, attracting customers, is all part of being successful.  If you work for a growing company you know that competition is critical in having an edge both in the market place and in the work place.  Keeping happy satisfied customers is critical for any business.

These ideas of business and professional growth have had an impact on just about every aspect of our lives.  There is no lack of experts teaching success and leadership strategies to every organization from education to the military.  It wasn’t too long ago that some business leaders decided that the church also could benefit from learning about leadership and growth strategies.  After all weren’t most of the churches rather stogie, behind times and in need of updating to current social trends?  They just were not up with the times.

So, many church pastors listened and began to adopt the business models of success.  Churches needed to be “seeker friendly,” and places of acceptance.  The surroundings must be inviting, contemporary, non-threatening, relevant, and anything else that would get people to join up.  There were many pastors whose motives were pure, and wanted only to have greater numbers of people exposed to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Little did they know that the cost of running such a large enterprise would force them to make accommodations little by little until financial considerations began to overshadow the primary purpose of saving souls.  After all, there were bills to pay and the risk of offending the customer had a direct link to the offering plate.

So down the interstate they went, trying to keep up with all the big trucks.  Timetables, schedules, programs, larger staff and competition.  Two nights ago I listened to an internationally known minister who confessed, at one point in his ministry, to climbing the ecclesiastical ladder of success and always wanting the next move up to “a bigger church.”  Success as the world defines it is more and bigger.  Even “men of the cloth” are prone to the greatest sin of all, the pride of self-aggrandizement.

The Bible tells a different story.  In Matthew 7:13,14 we see a plain and simple truth about the way to heaven.  It reads, “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  The way of the world is a wide multi-lane “interstate” highway.  Most of the people are on that road, clawing and fighting trying to keep up with their idea of the good life and success.  Many churches are on that highway as well.

Everyone is on that “interstate” to begin with.  Then Jesus enters in and changes our hearts.  The first thing He says is, “take the next exit.”  When we get off we find ourselves entering a narrow gate, but we fit through perfectly.  The road is pretty narrow; sometimes only one lane.  But the landscape changes dramatically.  Everything looks brand new and we begin to see things we’ve never seen before.  The pace has slowed way down and often comes to a stop for us to view the wonders of God’s creation and listen to His vioce.

When we encounter others on the road we remember the sign, “Pass With Care.”  We don’t run over people anymore.  We can’t even view the world through “interstate” lenses; in fact we don’t want to.  We begin to feel like our home is somewhere on this narrow road and Jesus promises to get it all ready for us.  Eventually we can’t remember what the “interstate” was like, and have no desire to find out.  Jesus tells us our job is to show others what the scenic route is like.  Sometimes they have to get completely lost in order to try “this exit.”  But remember, few, and that means not too many, are they that find it.

So, in real life, and for the life to come, “Always Take the Scenic Route.”

 

Comments

  1. Rachael MacPhee says:

    I think Drew and I at opposite of you and Mimi when it comes to taking the scenic route. It also remind of of the Pixar movie Cars (which we are watching often in this house these days.) we love you both and are so thankful for your wisdom!

  2. Alan Dodd says:

    So you are the scenic route person? You’re a granddaughter after my own heart! There is a cool Pixar movie car; an old Volkswagen bus. We used to have one!

    Love,
    Grandad

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