Hiking Through Grace

Last week I hiked up into the heart of the Pecos Wilderness with my dad and some old friends.  It had been over a decade since I’d truly backpacked, not counting my winter hunting trips.  It was great to set up the tent, cast the rod and catch some fish, and to renew old friendships.

So I don’t wander off in this blog, like my dad and I did on our trek up to Stewart Lake, I’m going to graciously trek right to the point.  Though fishing was great, hiking was breathtaking, and reforming friendships over conversations about faith and serving in our own community was refreshing, what really hit me was the weather.

Yep, I’m going to talk about the weather.  Okay, I promise that my next blog will hike back into the realm of backpacking and what a joy it is to wander, especially when discovering challenging conversations of faith and community.

I want to talk about weather, because I want to talk about grace.  As my dad and I hiked up the sun slowly baked us.  It was hot, and it stayed hot all week long.  The last time we’d been up in the Pecos Wilderness it had rained non stop.  I remember it being so wet we had a river in our tent.  Not this time.

It was weird that it didn’t rain.  I really didn’t mind the lack of rain, but it just felt weird.

As we hiked 9 miles down out of the wild it was so hot my feet started to burn.  I had to walk on my toes so my heals wouldn’t blister up.

What little water I had left at the end of the trail I dumped on my head just to cool off.  It felt amazing.  A little water can really be gracious on a hot day.

The water dripped off my bare head and shoulders onto the dry ground, evaporating immediately.

It wasn’t until we drove out of Las Vegas, NM that we felt the first drop of rain.  Or at least the Nisan Titan felt the rain.  The rain clouds looked like hands dragging their long fingers along the dry mesa tops as if they were scraping for last crumbs.

It was gorgeous.  But inside the cab I still felt parched.  We’d brought along two Dublin Dr Peppers for a celebratory drink at the end of the hike, but, as they’d been sitting in the hot truck all week, we were forced to wait until they could be cooled down with ice.   As we sep north on I-25 I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I popped open our two Dublin Dr Peppers.  They were ice cold.  As I swigged down the real sugar drink, I knew I’d just broken my sugar fast, but after the dry hike it was worth it.  Mine tasted phenomenal.  Probably as good as rain does after a long dry summer.

As we drove through Pueblo, Colorado the rain was coming down in sheets.  I was thankful we hadn’t faced this type of rain on our trip, ’cause now I was safe inside the cab of the truck with the AC blasting and no need for rain to cool me down.

Inside the cab we were listening to U2’s album All That You Can’t Leave Behind and as the rain died down the album came to a close.  Bono was singing about Grace.

Grace, she takes the blame.  She covers the shame. Removes the blame.  It could be her name.

It hit me, not like the soft rain we’d driven through in New Mexico, but like the drowning rain in Pueblo, we need grace just as we needed water on our hot hike.  I had to press repeat on my iPod so I could listen to it again.  It made me think, am I showing grace to the people around me or am I like the hot dusty trail I hiked on?

Am I a thirst quenching Dr Pepper or am I a hot pair of boots rubbing blisters?

Bono says, “Grace finds beauty in everything.  Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.”

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One Easy Way To Put An End To Hate

Last Sunday morning, Milwaukee, Wisconsin experienced a repeat performance of the tragic Aurora shooting from three weeks ago. The gunman, Wade Page, shot six people and wounded four others in a Sikh temple before eventually taking his life.

Since then, news outlets have been reporting that Page had ties to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups. He also reportedly played in two white power bands.

Seems like the hate quotient in our country has increased exponentially over the last year or two.

So how do we put an end to it?

First of all, I think we need to stop talking about it.

Is it just me, or does it seem that our culture is throwing the word “hate” around like an errant Tim Tebow pass? Seems like our society is fixated on hate. Consider the recent additions to the English lexicon:

  • Hate rock
  • Hate crime
  • Hate groups
  • Hate monger
  • Hate speech

You’ve heard of FaceBook, but you may be surprised to know that there’s a HateBook where people can list their many hates.

Back in the day, the word “hate” was reserved for incorrigibles like Adolf Hitler or more recently Fred Phelps. Wade Page or James Holmes (the Aurora shooter) would surely fit into that category. But today, the word dominates the rhetoric in national news.

Once You Start You Can’t Stop

A few months ago I stopped at a nearby hardware store to pick up some household repair items. I asked a clerk for advice on a certain purchase, and this is what he said,

Actually, I think you’d be better off going with the ¾ bolt, actually. Then, actually, you’ll need to buy this nut. Actually, actually, you’ll find that it holds things together much better. Actually.

During our 2 minute conversation, he employed the word “actually” 14 times (I counted!). When I returned home, I shared my experience with my wife.

“So,” she asked after I finished telling my story, “when do you plan on beginning your project?”

“Actually, I thought I’d start tomorrow morning because, actually, I was planning on answering some emails tonight. Actually.”

I gulped because I knew I had been infected.

The next couple of days, the dreaded word kept appearing in my vocabulary. At times I knew it was coming but I still couldn’t stop it. The guy at the hardware store had given me the virus.

Throwing the word “hate” around works the same way. The more we talk about it, the more it appears in our vocabulary. And the more it appears in our vocabulary, the more common it becomes. Nowadays, a disagreement or debate can be considered
“hate speech.” Ironically, accusing people of hate can be in itself an act of hate.

While Wade Page performed with his white power heavy metal group, the lyrics in his songs assuredly expressed the hate that he already felt. But they also energized his burning hatred inside.

I realize this isn’t the magic pill—but we need to change the way we talk.

Our words are performative. If I stand in front of a mirror every day telling myself, “Mike, I hate you,” I’ll begin to believe it.

But if we change the way we talk to each other, we just might turn back the tide on hate.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt. Colossians 4:6 (NIV)

 Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’s doing his best to recover from his “Actually” virus.

One note: The Daily Bible Conversation blog is shuttering its doors at the end of August…at least for now. The blog has run its course, so Michael, Eugene, and Brendan will direct their energies in other areas. Beginning September 7, Michael will begin a new blog entitled “God Meets Culture” at michaeljklassen.com.

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Why God Likes Vacations

 By Eugene C. Scott

Where do you go for rest and relaxation?

Is it twelve miles from nowhere up a mountain in the Pecos Wilderness? I’m willing to bet most people don’t consider strapping on a 50 pound backpack and hauling it into the wilds a restful idea.

I mean seriously.

Rest? You have to walk the whole way. There’s no escalator.

Relaxation? There are bears and mountain lions and mosquitos. And dirt. And you eat out of the same pot you cook with and wipe your spoon on your pants when you’re done. And you sleep on the ground in a tent and poop in the woods.

And there’s no Facebook or Twitter.

Still that is exactly what I’m going to be doing over the next few days.

And I will love every inconvenient, dirty, grueling, quiet, slow, peaceful, real minute of it.

A lightness of soul

Why? Mainly because there is a moment after hiking for miles that you shed your heavy backpack and feel a physical lightness that makes you want to grab onto something for fear you might float away. Then later, before crawling into your tent, that physical lightness turns into a lightness of soul as billions of stars salt the night sky. With those stars comes a lightness–a freedom, as if my soul has taken flight and is soaring and breathing again for the first time. To see the vastness of God’s creation–of God himself–is to be reminded I am not in fact the center of the universe. Hunkering down below those mighty peaks and brilliant stars I remember I do not determine the course of world events, or often, even of my own life just as I don’t direct the stars.

Being busy does not equal being important

Up there I know I am not responsible for who becomes president, poverty in Haiti, global warming, or your happiness. That is not to say I do not play a role in these things. I do and so do you. But wilderness tells me in no uncertain terms, you are not all that. 

I believe this is why so many of us have a difficult time unplugging and truly taking time off. We are comfortable in our delusion that we are all that.

“How are you?” we ask one another.

“Busy!” we exclaim. “OMG, you would not believe all the things I have to do.”

But here is what we’re really saying:

“How are you?” we ask one another.

“Important!” we exclaim. “OMG, if I stopped doing what I’m doing for just one second, the entire world (at least the one that revolves around me) would collapse.”

The truth is, however, that our worlds do not collapse when we rest.

God likes vacations

Years ago–at the beginning of human time–God created rest saying, “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work . . . .” Sabbath–taking one day or more off–is God’s gift to us so that we can feel that lightness of soul. So we know that God, not us, is All That.

Modern science is finally catching up with God on this concept. Elizabeth Lombardo, a clinical psychologist who wrote a book titled A Happy You, says, “Taking a break . . . affords you an opportunity to step back, put life into perspective, and remember what’s really important. It helps get your priorities straight.”

And all this time we thought God was trying to be unreasonable and bossy. And the funny–meaning ironic–thing is that Christians are the ones most guilty of believing being busy equals being important. And pastors may be the worst of the worst at unplugging and resting.

Cat Stevens’ (now Yusaf Islam) old song “Miles from Nowhere” speaks of unplugging and getting our priorities straight:

“Miles from nowhere

I guess I’ll take my time

Oh yeah, to reach there

Look up at the mountain

I have to climb

Oh yeah, to reach there.

Lord my body has been a good friend

But I won’t need it when I reach the end.

Miles from nowhere.

Not a soul in sight.

Oh yeah, But it’s alright.”

Eugene and Stasia

For me the beautiful thing about being miles from nowhere and falling asleep under the stars, and marking time based on hunger pains not calendar appointments, and spending several days with a fly rod rather than a key board in my hands is knowing that the world is in God’s hands and not mine. Under that vast dome of stars, I realize true importance comes not from busyness but rather from the fact that the God who created those billion stars and that towering mountain knows my name and has written my story in his book. And this is true whether I am resting or working.

When I return, and you ask me how I am, I hope I answer, “I’m not all that. But it’s alright.”

Eugene C. Scott also believes God likes us to take vacations because it gives God time to clean up the messes we’ve made. Join him in the year The Year of Living Spiritually. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

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A Month Without Sugar

A little more than 30 days ago, right after I had my first In-N-Out Burger, I decided to try to go the month of July without sugar.  It had nothing to do with the burger, or maybe it did.

I’d tasted fast food perfection and had an idea.

It was a simple idea, just a challenge, nothing more.  I’d just slurped down a Dr Pepper with my burger, and thought, “Why not see how long I could go without the drink I love?”

Have you ever tried to give something up?

I’ve given up facebook, it was difficult and I reconnected after 47 days (I don’t regret it).  I’ve given up bread, it has panned out fairly well.  But I’ve never been able to give up sugar.  I have a sweet tooth the size of an elephant tusk.  But I knew if I wanted to truly live a healthy life, sugar had to go.

Sugar isn’t a bad thing, but last year my dad, Eugene Scott, was diagnosed with type two diabetes and well, it’s genetic.  When he was first diagnosed I thought about giving up sugar with him, but I couldn’t do it.  The month’s rolled by and I justified my sugar intake by how much I work out.  But come this last June, I decided to make July a sugar free month.

July isn’t an easy month to go sugar free.

C’mon it starts out with 4th of July, the day it’s okay to say yes to all things sweet.  I had to say no to dessert on America’s Birthday.  I also knew I’d be saying know to kid’s birthdays and a wedding.

Once I made it past Independence Day the challenge was all a piece of cake.

Directly after the 4th, the kids I work with started bringing in tempting birthday cakes, doughnuts just for the heck of it, cupcakes, and brownies (I love brownies).  But, because I’d said no to dessert on Independence day I knew I could make it.  That didn’t make saying no to wedding cake any easier, especially since the wedding was at the end of the month.  I’d nearly reached me goal, how bad would it be to cheat just a couple days before the end of the month.

Last week as I adventured down to Crooked Willow Farms, I faced more dilemmas than being lost.  Should I let myself eat cake!

Not only cake, but Skittle’s too.  It was as if all of my friends had come together to taunt me with sugar.  My friend Hannah, the bride, had set out small jars of Skittles in front of every seat.  I had to sit there all night while my other friends devoured their sweet treat.  I decided to take precautionary measures.  I stuck myself on the dance floor all night and stayed away from all the sweets.  I had a blast dancing and at the end of the night realized I just hadn’t had time for the cake.  And I had a blast anyway.

Quickly one week became two, and then three, and before I knew it I’d made it.  July was over.  I’d said no to oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate cake, and every sugar filled chocolate chunk browny that haunted my dreams.  Yes, my dreams were even filled with sugar. (Okay I might’ve had a dream or two where I gave into temptation and fed my sweet tooth, only to wake up with a sigh of relief.)

But now here it is August and I still haven’t had any sweets.  As the month passed, I started feeling better.  And so why stop a good thing? I don’t know when I’ll have my first Dr Pepper or piece of cake, but it might not be any time soon.  ‘Cause what we consume affects how we live.

I never thought I could go a month without sugar, but I just took it day by day and now I’m having a hard time thinking about going back to the dulce vida (sweet life).

Plus, I gave up sugar for a physical gain, but the whole challenged seemed to have spiritual implications too.  As I said no to sugar I started thinking about how I am living life spiritually.  Life without sugar has made me feel healthier, but maybe when living spiritually, I don’t need to subtract from my life, but add too it.

I’ve spent this year journaling about what I am thankful for, how I’ve felt blessed, and how I’ve felt God.  Like the sugar challenge, this has been a daily challenge.  Each day I have to set aside time to read my bible, which can be as difficult as saying no to a bear claw doughnut, but it’s worth it.  It’s become like spending time with my best friend each day.

Just as I have felt physically healthier without sugar I feel spiritually healthier and closer to God too, because I am actively looking for him in each aspect of my life.  I’ve had to rely on him to make things sweet when I can’t just down a handful of frosting, and therefor I feel spiritually healthier.

Maybe that’s why I can keep on living without sugar, I’d rather have God meet my needs than a bag of Skittles.

Can you live without sugar and feel the true blessing of adding God into your daily life?

That’s the true dulce vida.

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Would Jesus Eat At Chik-fil-A?

Last Wednesday, the old culture war from the 1980s and 90s was stirred up again. Dan Cathy’s comments  to The Baptist Press newspaper were broadcast across the country. His father Truett Cathy founded the Chik-fil-A restaurant chain and Dan serves as the company president and COO.

Because the media survives on sound bytes and snippets of information, few if any outlets broadcasted Cathy’s entire interview. And for good reason—readers lose their attention so quickly that few people would read it.

Ironically, Cathy was discussing this impossibility of a “Christian” business. He prefaced his controversial remarks by saying,

Christ never died for a corporation. He died for you and me. In that spirit … [Christianity] is about a personal relationship. Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are.

Then he continued…

We are very much supportive of the family, the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.

That’s it. He said nothing about gay marriage in the interview.

Nevertheless, Cathy’s words were carried in various media outlets, which led to the media storm and ensuing culture war (to review the sordid events, click here. And last Wednesday, it culminated with “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” Long lines of people showed up at the restaurant to demonstrate their support, the prohibition of gay marriage, and/or the right to free speech.

In opposition, protestors are commissioning today as “Same-Sex Kiss Day.”

Which begs the question: would Jesus eat at Chik-fil-A?

While answering on behalf of Jesus is a risky venture, here’s my guess.

Yes and no.

No, because Jesus never made an issue about rights. He never argued for free speech nor did he even defend himself in the face of false accusations. Paul describes Jesus this way:

He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:7–8 NIV)

Jesus didn’t demand his rights. He laid them down. This is very difficult for any American because our nation was founded on the importance of rights.

So my hunch is, Jesus probably would have refrained from eating at Chik-fil-A last Wednesday because the issue was all about rights—the right (or not) to be in a gay marriage and the right to free speech. Non-participation in “Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day” is not a demonstration for or against the cause.

On the other hand, my hunch is that he would have eaten at Chik-fil-A on Thursday. Why? Because he loves the workers and likely wouldn’t want to see them lose their jobs. Plus, he gave the idea for their amazing chicken sandwiches to Truett Cathy and would probably want to enjoy them from time to time.

But while we’re on the subject, I’d like to offer some thoughts about navigating our way through this mess. In regard to differences in opinion on lifestyle choices, we can approach each others’ differences in a number of ways:

Brain-washing. One party forces another party to believe and behave in a certain way. 

Oppression. One party forces another party to behave in a certain way.

Tolerance. One party forces another party to accept and approve of certain behaviors.

Respect. Both parties agree to disagree on certain behaviors, but act civil-y toward each other.

Obviously, these categories break down at some point—especially because I’m operating from the Klassen Dictionary of Terms—but consider Jesus’ words in John 13:34.

He didn’t say, “Tolerate one another as I have tolerated you.”

He didn’t say, “Respect one another as I have respected you.”

What did he say? “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Love means both parties accept the other party regardless of behavior. Jesus loves the Chik-fil-A workers every bit as much as the advocates of gay marriage.

Actually, I think Jesus would have purchased a dozen Chik-fil-A meals on Thursday and shared them with a group of homeless people sitting under a bridge. Or, he would have befriended the protestors and probed their hearts.

But he wouldn’t have engaged in any debates because  debates rarely have winners and losers.

As we witnessed last Wednesday.

One note: The Daily Bible Conversation blog is shuttering its doors at the end of August…at least for now. The blog has run its course, so Michael, Eugene, and Brendan will direct their energies in other areas. More news of what’s next will appear in our remaining blogs.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He loves, loves, loves Chik-fil-A spicy chicken sandwiches.

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True Olympic Competition: Freedom Versus Control

By Eugene C. Scott

The first competitive event of the 2012 Olympic Games in London was the Opening Ceremony. London versus Beijing. It was no contest. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony stomped the 2012 London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

2008 Beijing

The Beijing ceremony, directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, cost over $100 million using 22,000 performers, including 2,008 precision drummers, 1,800 marshall arts specialists, 900 men under boxes to simulate keys of movable type, and countless children. China also used technology to prevent rainfall on their 43,000 piece computer enhanced fireworks show.

“With all the technical complexities involved, the opening ceremony was 100 times more difficult than making a movie, he [Yimou] said, adding that such a performance was unprecedented in the world,” wrote Zhu Yin for the news agency Xinhua.

Most people agree with Yimou, saying the 2008 opening was the most spectacular ever, and maybe, ever to be. Even Danny Boyle, the director of the 2012 ceremony said he would not try to compete with them.

2012 London

This year the Opening Ceremony cost only $42 million using 15,000 performers including 12 horses, a village cricket team, some sheep dogs roaming around, 70 sheep, 10 chickens, 2 goats, 3 cows, and 10 ducks. Oh yeah, they used real clouds above the stadium and Mr. Bean was there. The show looked disorganized and scattered, on purpose. One blog reported, “So disappointingly for anyone looking for rows, there haven’t been any.”

Perfection versus Imperfection

China wanted to prove something to the world. Uniformity and technology were the Beijing watchwords. China achieved this precision and uniformity by having performers practice their movements for up to 15 hours a day wearing diapers because they were not allowed to take breaks. Even the children practiced for that long. The final rehearsal was 51 hours long with few breaks and only two meals and no shelter from the rain.

In 2008 perfection came at the cost of freedom and with a great deal of coercion and manipulation. After the 2008 games, Yimou told the press that no other country, except possibly communist North Korea, could do a better opening ceremony.

Why? Because they could. In the West, Yimou said, no one would put up with how China treated its performers.

In Britain, however, the opening ceremony told stories, stories by and about imperfect people. Shakespeare, Harry Potter, Mary Poppins, James Bond, Queen Elizabeth, even Mr. Bean.

Kid’s wiggled, people missed cues, the whole thing played out slow and uneven. We were “trying to make you feel like you’re watching a live film being made,” said Boyle.

And the Winner Is

For me the London Opening Ceremony was the better. But the competition was not between Opening Ceremonies but rather between two opposite philosophies. Freedom versus control, machine versus human, uniformity versus individuality. I took a course in drama and theater in college. The professor assigned us to go and view both a movie and a live theater play. He asked us then to evaluate and discuss them in class. He pointed out that in a movie every shot, every word, every move was directed and choreographed. Movies, though well-done and exciting, are farther away from reality than a live show. The excitement, tension, and drama in the live play came, in part, from the possibility of someone missing a line or ad-libbing. The play was more real in its imperfection.

Living Spiritually Demands Freedom

Still I delude myself in my desire for predictability, order, and control in my life. I yell, “Why?” at God when things beyond explanation befall me. I want God to do away with disease and discomfort. And if God won’t, then I hope technology or government will.

The comparison between these two ceremonies reminded me of how we so often look for formulas and systems to help us get our lives under control. To help our lives make sense, have order. But by definition life cannot be controlled and still be life. It becomes something else, an automaton.

Spiritual life more so. No matter what any pastor (me included) or book has told you, there are not seven steps, five keys, or ten secrets to a fulfilling spiritual life.

Living spiritually is living in the freedom of loving God and being loved by God. It is leaning into the mystery of what the next breath of life holds. It is embracing the imperfection of human life while pursuing a perfectly loving God. In short, it is “watching a live film being made.”

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Life Is A Highway And I’m Lost!

Of all the songs to have stuck in my head, “Life is a Highway,” sung first by Tom Cochrane, was the last song I’d have asked to be echoing in my brain.

I mean, yes, “life’s like a road you travel on.” I’ll accept that tired metaphor, but I’ll curse the lyrics, “Life is a highway and I’m gonna drive it all night long.”

But last Friday as I was on my way to a wedding I didn’t want to drive the road all night long.  I’d set out a good hour before the start of the ceremony, which should’ve given me plenty of time, as mapquest told me the drive would only take a little over half-an-hour.

With my directions printed out and in the seat next to me (I haven’t buckled yet and bought a smart phone), I headed south on Santa Fe Blvd, taking the old trail the Indians and Cowboys used to travel from Denver to Santa Fe, New Mexico, towards the little train stop community of Larkspur, CO.  Fortunately the road was free of horses and wagons, but unfortunately it was raining hard, slowing the traffic down just enough to make me worry.  Time was slipping by.  The wedding was at 5pm and I was pushing 4:45.  All I wanted to do was make to the wedding on time.

Sadly, as I reached Castle Rock, a town noted for the rock on the east side of town that looks like a, you guessed it, castle, I missed my turn.  Maybe it was because of the rain, but I am man enough to admit it, I was just absolutely turned around on my way to Crooked Willow Farms.

I was frustrated and lost.  Why hadn’t I asked some of my friends who I knew were going to the wedding to carpool?  Too late now, I though as I zipped around Castle Rock.

Sometimes when you are lost, okay, sometimes when I am lost I lose all self-respect and ask for directions.

I flicked on my blinker and pulled off the failed road I’d been driving, and stopped at the closest gas station to ask for directions.  “Okay, take your first left, then take a right on Founders, and then a left on 85.  Oh and get off on exit 184,” said the gas station clerk in a fast Asian dialect.  Time was ticking and so I didn’t ask her to clarify.

I should have.  If life is truly a highway and you don’t want to drive it all night long, always ask for clarification.

Back in the Honda Civic, I took my first left into a Wal-Mart parking lot.  Wait, I was lost, again!  What she didn’t say, was I needed to get on Interstate I-25 and then take my first left.  So, I turned around and merged onto 1-25 going south.  Instantly I realized I was going the wrong way.  If she wanted me to exit the highway at 184, then mile marker 179 sure was the wrong way.

Stuck on the highway, all night long! I don’t want to drive it, all night long!  Worried I wouldn’t be able to exit until Colorado Springs, which would’ve taken me an extra twenty miles away from my final destination, I started beating on the wheel.  “Get me off this stinking highway,” screamed.  I wanted to exit immediately, but I was stuck on my course, the guard rails blocking any attempt to ditch the road.

In a moment of clarity I realized, Larkspur is south of Castle Rock.  I wasn’t going the wrong way, I was just on a different road. But then I realized I didn’t have directions to the wedding from I-25 and I wasn’t sure when the exit for Larkspur would show itself.

It was already 5:20 and I felt demoralized.  I was going to ride this rainy road all night long.

By now I was cursing the fact I don’t have an iPhone.  I was screaming at the highway for not letting me exit so I could check my bearings.  And then, at mile marker 174 I saw an exit and took it.

The man at the Yogi Bear Jellystone mountain biking tour shop looked at me sympathetically and said, “Get back on to I-25 and go south one more mile.  Exit at 173 and you’re in Larkspur.  Now for Crooked Willow Farms take a right at Fox Road under the railroad and then curve around to Perry Road.  You’ll find your destination on your right.”

Larkspur was so close!  As I turned off into the little town, very late and rain still pouring down, I felt at ease.  I turned right onto Perry.  Wait, wasn’t Fox Road supposed to come first?  I crossed over the rail road and kept driving.

And then I saw the sign.  Hannah And Dave’s Wedding This Way!

I was on the wrong road, but it led me to the wedding anyway.  As I parked my car and snuck up to the outdoor venue I realized it didn’t matter that I was late.  This night wasn’t about me.  It was about my friends, and heck they were busy saying their vows, they wouldn’t notice my tardiness.

Even though it rained through the rest of the ceremony, the wedding and reception were fantastic.  And It dried up in time for me to dance like a mad man.  As I drove home, safely and without any detours, I started thinking about how life is really like a highway.

Back in Castle Rock I’d missed my turn.  I could’ve tried to figure things out on my own, but I decided to stop and ask someone.  That’s being open to letting other’s into my life.  Even more than being open to people, I find I need to be open to God.  Often times in life I get a little lost and all I need to do is stop and ask God for directions.

Even after I messed up the directions again, got on the highway the wrong way and took the wrong road, I still made it to the wedding.  If we trust God he’ll help us reach the correct destination.  No matter if we mess up along the way, he’ll get us back on track if we let him, and then maybe we’ll figure out that life’s not always about us, but the people we’re traveling to see.

So if you ever get lost in life or on the road, you just have to trust the signs, ask for directions, and keep driving all night long.

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