Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Old Road

Welcome to the journey! It’s amazing the older you get, the less you know about how God really works. I’ve been a Christian for 34 years and have been in ministry for over 30 years. I started a media ministry in 1987 and went into full-time ministry 12 years ago. When you think you have nothing new to learn, that’s when you are in real trouble.

God has me on a personal journey to discover his nature, character and personality. It’s time to re-evaluate everything. You would think that after being a Christian for as long as I have there would be nothing new to discover. But you would be wrong. As I go through this process, he wants me to talk about this journey and to be open, honest and transparent. I’m sure this is a journey we can all take. At some point in our lives we are all going to ask who is this God we serve and what is his plan.

I have no plan other than to see where God is at work and join him in that effort. So I ask God each day, what should I be writing about. As I went out on my daily run, he showed me that my passion and love for the open road is a metaphor and a guide for my journey to discover how God works in our lives. I have driven across the country over 20 times. Most people think I’m crazy. I have been on practically every remote or off-the-beaten-path highway you can imagine. I particularly have an interest in Old Route 66. It is the ultimate old highway. It has been called The Mother Road. Amazingly, much of it is still intact, but it is not easy to find or follow. It requires dedication and determination. In many ways it parallels our walk with God. You have to work at it in order to follow the path.

I’m convinced that God can be found out there on the old road. Don’t look for him on the interstate. Why do I like the old road? You never know what’s around the next corner. There’s always something new and different. I find it to be mysterious, magical and often a spiritual journey. Each curve offers a different view. Perhaps the next diner will be the ultimate dining experience. Or what new fascinating roadside attracting could be lurking around the next dip or corner? The open road offers a sense of adventure and excitement. Nothing is more thrilling than getting up early in the morning, checking your map, getting your first cup of coffee and hitting the pavement. As the sun comes up, there is a sense of uncertainty and excitement in the air. Who knows what the day will bring. There is no other experience quite like it.

Perhaps our journey with God should be just like this. So why do I think God is out there on the old road? In life we are always offered a choice. We have free will. If you want to, you can live your life on the interstate, or you can travel the back roads. It’s always our choice. The interstate offers a predictable experience. No matter where you are whether in Florida or Michigan all interstates are basically the same. It’s a very easy place to become complacent and indifferent. If you have been on one interstate, you’ve been on every interstate.

But the old highway is different. There is nothing predictable about it. Each road is different. It has its own course, direction and flow. You have to pay attention because the road has many curves, dips and corners. You cannot put God in a box on the old road. But on the interstate, we are convinced that God is predictable.

The interstate is also convenient. We know exactly when and where the next rest stop, town or interchange will be. It’s also fast and efficient. It allows us to make our plans and meet our goals and objectives. It give us a sense of control.

The old highway is anything but that. Here you have to slow down and take your time. This is always the key to see where God is at work. How do you see God when you’re moving at 70 or 75 miles per hours when you have your own plans and goals to meet? The old road offers no convenience. At any time you can be caught behind slow-moving traffic. Who knows? The next town could be 50 miles ahead with no rest stops.

The interstate is also comfortable. It has smooth pavement. If you have been on the back roads, especially Rt. 66, you know it’s anything but smooth. In fact, the pavement is broken and has been patched up. I think that’s a good representation of our lives as we grow in our faith. God wants us to continue to grow, and it only happens when we encounter life’s bumps and dips. Can you really encounter God on a smooth surface? Did God really call us to a life of convenience?

The old road also follows the contour of the land. It zigzags across the landscapes as if it’s always been there. It fits into the image of the land. The interstate is anything but that. We have recreated the landscape to fit into the needs of the interstate. We have removed mountains, hillsides and valleys and have created elevated bridges to remake the land to fit into our plans. It’s not hard to see God out on the old road where the road flows naturally around rivers, valleys and mountains. On the interstate, we can create God into an image we are comfortable with. On the old road, we have to fit into what God has done and is doing as we flow with the natural landscape of the road.

The interstate is also safe. It is a divided highway with wide lanes. It represents technology and the advancement of man. But you can have a false sense of safety because the interstate has a lot of traffic and people on it moving in the same direction. It becomes easier to convince yourself that this is the right way to go. Because driving the interstate requires little effort, it can also lull you to sleep and you are unaware of danger. The old road is anything but safe. It has oncoming traffic, blind curves and accessible side roads. The old road requires you to be alert and prepared for anything. When driving late at night on a desolate highway in the middle of nowhere with the next town miles ahead, it is just you and God. Is our journey with God supposed to be safe and without dangers? If everything is safe, why would we need God? Are we supposed to be on the edge depending on him to protect us? A journey on the old road requires trusting in God for our protection and provision.

The old highway is connected to the land, people and places that it visits and occupies. It’s a place that you can feel alive and feel the presence of God. You can meet real people with real stories. The interstate offers a disconnected experience. From your window it is as if you can view life without ever experiencing it.

And, finally, the interstate is about a destination—getting somewhere, fulfilling a goal or objective. But the old road is more about the journey. It’s about what you learn and experience along the way and about how you have grown in your faith. It allows you the opportunity to know God better. It’s easy to stay on the interstate. It requires no effort whatsoever. It allows you the opportunity to go with the flow. But if you are like me, you are ready to take the next exit off. Life starts at the off ramp. There is a different road out there—the road less traveled. It offers excitement and adventure. I’m sure if we want to find God, he is more likely to be there on the old road than he is on the interstate.

Trust me. It’s worth the time and the effort to find him out there on the old highway


  1. I love this post Harold! Partially because I am a back roads kind of gal (not a fan of interstates in general, but appreciate their convenience when I need convenience). AND, the analogies you explore on how truly knowing God and joining Him in the work He is doing, is like traveling the back roads. I love road trips! And the points you make strongly resonate with me and the way I approach life. Blessed to be a witness.