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Embrace the Journey

Embrace the Journey

The following is a story I tell from the book backwards: Created to Live SENT

I grew up in Alaska, the son of a missionary couple, Paul and Ruthie Kendall. We spent two of our summers before I was sixteen crisscrossing the lower 48 to raise funds. I was still a young man when I could say I’d been to 49 states (Hawaii had to wait). That adds up to a lot of time in the car together!

My dad was old school when it came to traveling. In his mind you drew a line from where you were to where you wanted to go. Everything was focused on the destination. We learned to hold it—you know what I mean. And when we did stop, we attempted to set a new record for the fastest pit stop. We got gas, food, and did our business in record time. Occasionally, we even timed our stops. You got to relax when we arrived at our destination; until then it was full speed ahead.

One summer we were traveling on the Alcan Highway just outside Dawson Creek, Canada, when I received a strange prompting. It was a thought that seemed to come out of nowhere. We had just stopped to eat lunch at an A &W Root Beer Drive In. Afterwards, we piled back into the car, and when we did, I traded seats so that I was sitting in the front seat on the passenger side.

A few miles down the road we saw a sign that said, Buckle your seat belt. Someone loves you.

Being a young teen I was squarely in the middle of adolescence. I immediately countered with the thought, No one loves me.That wasn’t true, but I didn’t have a girl friend I reasoned to myself. That thought among others led me to question whether I was loved. Then the thought came again, buckle your seatbelt God loves you. That motivated me to action, so I buckled my seatbelt.

Before long we passed a pickup truck with four teens jammed into the cab: two guys and two girls. They were poking along like they had something other than driving on their minds. The next thing we knew, they had stepped on the gas and passed us.

When they did, they all turned around and looked and stared at us. We thought maybe they saw our Alaska license plate and they wanted to see if we looked like Eskimos. Or perhaps the teenage driver was just filled with testosterone and wanted to show off by passing the family station wagon.

Once they passed us they slowed down again. Assuming that they made their point, my dad pulled up beside them to pass them back. We were about a foot ahead of them when they made a left-hand turn directly into the front quarter panel of our car. They struck our vehicle literally a foot from where I sat. The contact drove us off the road into a ditch. We hit the ground without the benefit of time for my dad to hit the brake. We were probably traveling nearly 70 miles an hour at impact. The sudden impact propelled my brother forward from the very back of the car where he had laid down to sleep on top of the suitcases.

Miraculously, my Dad caught him before he hit the windshield. It was a reflex action, but it saved my brother Brad’s life. The car was a wreck but we survived—all of us. My dad had bruises from the steering wheel. My mom was bruised from hitting the back seat. Brad was sore from his flight through the air which came to an abrupt stop. I survived without bruises or injuries. You couldn’t even tell that I was in a wreck.

When I climbed out my door, I remembered the sign we passed a few miles earlier. I recalled that I had put on my seatbelt because I was reminded that God loved me. At that same moment, a thought dropped in my mind, the thought was, I have a plan for your life. I think the thought came from God.

My family had an unexpected stay in Dawson Creek, Canada. But eventually we got our car fixed, and we continued our trip. You could probably guess how an accident like this affected us. We decided that life wasn’t just about getting from point A to B. We would still have to travel, but this was a huge reminder that there was more to life than just passing through. We decided we wanted to enjoy the journey.

Life is too short and relationships are too precious just to get from here to there. For the purpose of full disclosure, my dad still found a way to average just short of 700 miles a day, but we learned to enjoy the journey. We played games in the car. We prayed. We sang. We read stories. We had fun being together. We listened to ball games and books on tape. I know I’m dating myself but you get the point. We changed our focus, and we’ve never been sorry. It seemed like the time went faster. And guess what? We still made it on time!

What about you? Are you racing through life? You may not be physically racing through your life, but how many times do you approach life as if the clock is ticking to accumulate as many possessions and experiences as possible?

If you had to pick between the two ways to travel which would you say best describes the way you presently take family vacations or business trips? Are you a straight line to point B from point A person? Or have you learned the embrace the journey?


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