What I Did This Summer

Posted: August 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

Maybe it was a Fulton County public schools thang, but when I grew up one of the questions we had to answer in elementary school was what we did over the summer. Anticipating this question and the audience that was before me I made sure that I counted all the states we went through and to in our white Ford station wagon (later on it was the Ford Aerostar!). I’d tell them about the blast we had playing twenty questions in the car ( we were much more creative during the pre-dvd days). I’d go on and on bragging about the incredible time we had hanging out with extended family in Philly, where my great grandmother made sure we brought our trunks and played in the street with the fire hydrant blasting. I’d share about the cheesesteaks we ate, sights seen and friendships made- even at times embellishing, because my vacation was surely the best.

Well, I guess I decided to take it back and tell you all what we did on our vacation this summer. We really had a phenomenal time. In fact, Korie and I looked at each other and said that this was the best vacation we’ve had as a family. Yet what made it great wasn’t so much the destinations (though they were fun), it was the journey.

Sure Savannah was incredible. No kids, just Korie and I. Long walks through downtown- stopping to read just about every historical marker. Great places to eat like Paula Deen’s spot- Lady and Sons- and Five Guys (yeh they are just a bit better than Inn and Out, blasphemy I know). And late night pillow fights with my bride, or something to that effect…

We grabbed our kids and went up to Charlotte where we were inspired at the Billy Graham Library, and by hanging out with some great friends of ours- Bobby and Heather Conway. Later it was Hershey Park, where my wife broke her silly vow of no sweets at the “Sweetest Place on Earth” (how silly of her to even swear off sweets on vacation in the first place!), rode crazy rollercoasters, hung out with some more friends, and then ventured down to Philly for cheesesteaks, Italian Water Ice, good friends and great worship. We wrapped things up with a week on the Chesapeake Bay that was really refreshing.

While we created great memories, and appreciated the places, what made this vacation one for the ages was the people that we were able to reconnect with along the way. You know when you’ve lived in six states over the last fifteen years, you tend to meet a lot of people from a lot of different places, and Korie and I count ourselves blessed beyond measure to have made some great friends, who really encourage us in our walk with Jesus, and make us laugh.

There’s Bobby and Heather who showed us how to make great smoothies. After downing what he calls, “The Deliciousness” we’d sit outside and smoke cigars, while getting under the hood of our lives and challenge us to be more like Jesus. There’s Derek and Cheryl Hicks who were in our wedding, and got married two weeks after us. I couldn’t help but smile at Dr. Hicks who because of a little nudging from me, left his job in the insurance world, to get a master’s and then a doctorate degree from Rice, and is now writing his first book and serving as a professor at Lancaster Seminary. Over dinner at Houlihan’s on Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, we pressed rewind and reminisced about years gone by when we would spend just about every evening together in Los Angeles…the four of us.

There were not so good, but good times on the trip. Like sitting down with three friends at a restaurant in the heart of Atlanta, and hearing the pain of one of them, who also was in my wedding, share about a recent divorce he’s gone through, and his decision to give up on Jesus and the gospel. That was hard, especially when I had a hand in connecting he and his now ex-wife. Wow.

There were times when I had to discipline my children, and yet there were also times when those same children would grab my arm and put it around their neck as we’re walking through an amusement park. There were times when my oldest wanted to go on an especially crazy rollercoaster…WITH ME, and I was scared to death, but I got on with him, and closed my eyes as my heart was break dancing in my chest, because I knew it wasn’t about the rollercoaster to him, it was about being with dad, and finally not having to share me with a lot of people. The places were fun, but the journey was much better.

Sometimes I’m asked the question, “So what’s God teaching you?” If you were to ask me that question now, the answer is easy- God’s showing me to stop being in such a hurry to get to the places you want to be at in life, and enjoy the trip. I can move at such a frenetic pace- earn the doctorate, prepare the sermon, get ready to preach at that next place- that I miss out on the people and things that come across my path in the process.

Jesus shows me this. Sure he had a lot of places to go, but if you study his life he was constantly teaching or being interrupted by someone who needed something from him along the way. In each instance he took the time to enjoy the community with his followers, serve the needy and take in the trip. In fact, I think a case could be made that much of Jesus’ ministry took place along the way and not at the destination.

In a rush to get somewhere, to be at some destination? Slow down, you might miss something much more important along the way.

  1. Thank you for this post. I really enjoyed your perspective and love your concluding thought!

    It made me laugh to read that you are often asked: What is God teaching you? I LOVE to ask that question to my friends and family and people that I meet that are following after the footsteps of Jesus! I LOVE how God at times is speaking the same thing to us while at the same time He speaks individually to each of us.

    I admit that one of my biggest challenges is getting caught up in the busyness and not stopping to enjoy the journey. I tend to be goal oriented and always looking towards what’s next.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Your point about enjoying the journey is something we all need to be reminded of and yes; Jesus’ ministry was most definitely seen as “along the way” and not just the destination!

    Thanks for this 🙂

  2. Charles McKinney says:

    This is a good word, Brother. Thanks for the reminder to slow down, and be intentional about the journey itself.

    Good stuff!

  3. Chris Larsen says:

    Im sorry for not addresing you properly but i dont know how you spell your first name nor your last and i again apologize for not using proper grammar nor punctuation lol.
    some things in your blog really made some sense to me especially about Jesus having alot of places to go and alot of people needing his help and for lack of better words “holding him up” this seems like the story of my life. I have had alot of sorrow in my life and still do , and it really helps to keep my faith to know that someone in your position recognizes that those things will happen. I am not a member of fellowship but my girlfriend is and i have visited a few times . I have told her a few times that i would like to speak with you when you have time but it seems that something is always in my way. Aftewr reading what you wrote i will definitely make more of an effort to speak with you. If there is anything i can do to speed the process please let me know.

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