In the summer of 1978, one of my friends from church and I came up with a bright idea. We had been in Scouts together for several years and had enjoyed our time camping and traveling with the scouting program to different areas of North Carolina and the country. There was something exciting to me about going to a place far away, a place I had never seen and experienced.
So, right after high school, my friend and I decided we would take our own journey. It was a bright idea! We were going to the Grand Canyon! Our plan was to leave early on Saturday morning. Drive three days to the canyon. Spend one night and drive three days back home. We would be back in one week!
When I first proposed the idea to my mom and dad, it was met with a bit of concern and skepticism. My mom asked the practical questions: How are you going to get there? Who is going to do all that driving? Where will you stay at night? My dad simply stated the obvious: “You are going to drive six days to spend one night at a hole in the ground?” He had a very pragmatic way of viewing life. In retrospect, I don’t think they were convinced this was such a bright idea. Two teenagers, driving most of the way across the country, by themselves. What if we had car trouble? What if one of us got sick? What if we got lost?
In my carefully worded and often rehearsed response to Mom and Dad, I was able to convince them that this would be a great learning experience for me. How could it go wrong? It would be educational! I’m not sure if I convinced them or just wore them down. Regardless, we were off on our journey.
The journey began, filled with excitement and anticipation. However, those warm feelings wore off rather quickly as we faced obstacle after obstacle. One problem after another, just as my parents predicted. From running over dead animals and popping a tire, to getting sick from eating at every Stuckey’s restaurant between Asheville and Albuquerque. To getting absolutely lost in the middle of Dallas, Texas.
In the end,we made it to the Grand Canyon just before sunset on the third day. My friend was too sick to even get out of the car so I spent about 45 minutes looking out over the North rim of the Canyon. Then I got back in the car to head home. Since my friend was sick, I drove over 1500 miles on the way back. But I can claim forever that I have been to the Grand Canyon. Though my time there was brief, I will be changed forever by the expanse and beauty of that hole in the ground. Certainly, God must have painted those colors on that canyon.
Journeys are a part of life. Some are fun and adventurous. Some are laced with problems. But there is a journey that is worth taking, even though it is not a pleasant journey. It is a journey filled with joy and sadness. It is a journey that will end tragically. But if we are not willing to take the journey, we can never appreciate the impact of destination.
Jesus said that if we want to be His disciples, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. The season of Lent is a great journey. It is an opportunity for you to pick up your own cross and walk with Jesus through the wilderness. Lent gives insight into the anguish and pain that the Savior felt as the crucifixion drew near. Jesus carried his cross and He died for you. Won’t you carry your cross and die with him? Allow that old self to be crucified. Surrender those thoughts, addictions, and habits to the cross. Shed that guilt, animosity and hatred. Deny your old self and journey with Jesus to the cross.
If you are not willing to die with Him, you will never understand the full impact and power of His resurrection. And yours.