I’m sitting here in Nashville, Tennessee, overlooking a busy street and a myriad of hipsters. I rolled in about an hour ago in my sweet little car Miley Scion, hit up my favorite boutique (of course), and now I’m sitting, drinking a cold brew on a delightful coffee shop patio, and typing away for you folks. Well, let’s be honest, I mostly write for me. It’s cheap therapy, what can I say?
Nashville, Tennessee is a magical little city nestled right in the heartbeat of America. It’s a good destination. I’m fully anticipating a top-notch weekend here with some of my favorite humans on the planet.
But right now, the journey is fresh on my mind.
Unfortunately, it was bumpy one for a couple reasons:
1.) I drove with my windows down the entire time and I now sport a lovely tomato-red burn on exactly one half of my body. Cute.
2.) I experienced what some of you may call “road rage” towards a large, environment-destroying vehicle who was apparently very distraught that I was going only ten (yes, ten) miles over the speed limit while driving in the left hand lane to pass a semi-truck going five under. He gave me a dirty look and I decided to stew over the encounter for far too long.
Fear not, today’s drive was also a particularly good one for a variety of reasons:
1.) I got to leave work early. Uh, yeah, win.
2.) It is not possible for weather to be better than what I experienced today. Sunny and 79? Yes. Yesyesyesyesyes. Windows down, music up, happy me.
3.) Tennessee is a startlingly beautiful state. Like, I dare you to drive through it and not be impressed.
I would say, on this journey, the good outweighed the bad by a long shot.
But that’s how journeys are, aren’t they? They have bumps and turns and beautiful stretches. Good road trips have as many stories strewn throughout them as time spent in the actual “destination.” Bonding happens on the journey. You may pop a tire but then an inside joke is born. You see America’s soul — the highway towns, mountain passes, and miles and miles of cornfields who make her who she is. You may get weirdly attached to your car on the journey, name her, talk to her, and never ever want to sell her no matter what other, newer, shinier options pop up on the market. (I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU, MILEY SCION!)
When Jesus was living here on earth, his ultimate destination was the cross. Death, brutality, abandonment, justice, love, salvation, hope, life all somehow supernaturally rolled up into one event on a bloody hill. Thank you, God, for the cross. Thank you, God, for the resurrection. Like, seriously, life would be a major pointless bummer without the cross and resurrection.
But let’s look at the journey for a moment:
So many bumps and turns and beautiful stretches.
Jesus, both fully God and fully man, experienced every human struggle and temptation and then some. He was gossiped about and challenged by the religious big-wigs left and right. He was rejected by his hometown and even worse, his family. Whole crowds of people only liked him for the cool things he did and the free food he poofed from thin air. He got super mad in a temple and started throwing tables around. His best friend died. And there’s a lot more where that came from.
To us, these seem like pretty major bumps and turns for a brief three-year ministry.
But y’all, the journey was so good.
In these three years, Jesus brought the Kingdom of God to us here on earth. He ate with outcasts, not just to show off one time at a soup kitchen, but like, in their homes. Over and over. He wasn’t an awkward dinner guest — He was a friend to these sinners. He touched and healed the most contagious sick people. He raised his best friend back to life. He continued to teach, patiently, persistently, the crowds of people who struggled to see past the present. He forgave the least forgivable. He loved the most unlovable. He brought our Creator right down to earth and invited us to be friends with Him.
Do you see how insane that is? Join me while we pause for a moment and allow our brains and hearts to explode.
Okay, I’m back. The destination of the cross and the empty grave is everything. It’s the foundation of our faith and hope for eternal life. But Jesus’ journey to the cross brought God’s Kingdom to earth. It allowed us to get to know Him and feel truly known by Him. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit can be hard to grasp, right? But Jesus… we can latch on to Jesus because of his journey. This journey that he invited us into and continues to invite us into everyday as we continue the mission and bring the Kingdom to our friends, neighbors, coworkers.
Journey on, adventurer. Me and (much more importantly) Jesus are right there with ya.