Paul and I-81
This week I drove my daughter Anna back to Covenant College, which is just outside Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is a long drive. In Virginia, we travel on a beautiful piece of interstate, I-81, for over 300 miles. Even with the lovely mountains, farmland, and well-placed Starbucks options, it is still grueling. The drive is better when I have company, someone to talk to for a while or even take over the driving if I get too tired (which I will rarely admit). Often, when I am alone, I find myself looking at the mileage markers or flipping through radio channels (sort of a rolling couch potato) or trying to think about things or pray or figure out how this new piece of equipment works which allegedly allows me to use my phone “hands-free” (actually, it takes one hand to call someone on my cell phone and the other hand to try to adjust the volume on this gadget – so “hands-free driving” would be the most accurate rendition of what is going on) … I’ve never figured out real well how to “do” long distances. It seems like a great time for prayer and reflection, and yet I struggle to persist in that … mobile couch potato is easier.
And then I think of Paul, whose missionary travels took him over 10,000 miles largely on foot (some by ship). It took him about 300 days (broken up of course) to travel this distance. It was slow going. I wonder what he did during those days. He certainly had his companions, in addition to others who might join them on the road between two towns or cities, so maybe he just engaged in light conversation. Jesus often utilized his travel time for teaching, seeing travel not just as a necessary nuisance to get from point A to point B. My guess is that Paul did the same. I wonder if we shouldn’t try to think through how we might redeem the time we have in travel.
For many, commuting to and from work takes as much as four hours of each day. This is not an insignificant amount of time, usually spent driving or riding alone (i.e., no planned companions). What will you fill your head with during these times? In Acts 20, Paul is determined, being led by the Spirit, to get to Jerusalem and then to Rome. What did he fill his head with during these times of travel? I imagine him reflecting on and looking forward to the opportunities to proclaim the Gospel and to encourage the brothers and sisters wherever he went. Do you see your commute as your time of preparation for the day’s opportunities?
I want to use time wisely (I even hate when I don’t) and yet I see that these times of travel are often not used well in my life. I’ve just been thinking about this a bit. Maybe you have thought about it too. May the Lord help us to glorify Him with our lives, with everything, including our travel time.