Thursday, August 19, 2010

Living Off-Road

The first vehicle I bought on my own was a 1947 Willys CJ2A Jeep. It had been painted jet black with a brush, had no exhaust system, and some kind of horrible "goo" had been spilled in the back. When I proudly drove it up into the family garage my mother was NOT impressed!

Several months and lots of elbow grease later the old Jeep had a new exhaust that purred like a kitten, and thanks to a little help from Dad, a fire-engine red paint job complete with white pen stripes. It was a thing to behold! It was even more of a thing to be DRIVEN!

On Sunday afternoons a friend and I, both who had old Jeeps, would tool off together to some wilderness landscape around my hometown of Wetumpka. No logging road, power line right of way, or open gate escaped our sojourn. With a chain for towin' and a couple of wrenches for fixin', we took to the off-road scene with delight and enthusiasm.

Seldom was the trip when either chain or wrench or both was not employed to the fullest. And many times our return trip involved one limping soldier dragging a "dead" one behind. But resurrection was always around the corner as we piled into the shop to make the needed repairs and ready for the next outting.

Now don't get me wrong, I like comfortable and dependable transportation as much as anybody. But you just can't take a Camry "over the river and through the woods," though I have a friend or two who would try!

As I think about it, much of my life has been spent off-road. No, not literally, but metaphorically...spiritually. Often God seems to delight in leading me down some low-limbed, high-banked trail with few "Curve ahead" or "Yield" warnings along the way. I'm not complaining (though God would tell you from time to time I DO)...just commenting.

Ever feel that way? Ever wonder when the road is going to widen...get better marked? Ever wonder if you're on a road at all? If there is a purpose or plan to the dips and valleys and muddy ditches of life? I do...and often. I question myself. Sometimes I question God. I question what I thought was true about life.

When I was younger, I was taught to drive a fairly mid-sized, low-mileage, road-ready faith. But after I plowed through a few rough fields and bottomed out on a terrace or two, it seems that I needed a faith that was more off-road, more able to handle the ups and downs of life's landscape.

It's like my old Jeep...I'm always tinkering with it. Sometimes when I think I've got everything just right another wheel goes flat or I have to stop and blow the mud out of the radiator. But off-road faith just serves me better. It's a slower trip, less comfortable, and not everyone is impressed with my new "ride," but it works for me. I'm learning the idiosyncracies of shifting gears. Learning to travel with less and leave earlier. I'm learning to love life off-road...AGAIN!