Lessons from a road trip classroom
Have you ever handed God a syllabus? You know, a structured plan for your learning/growth as you travel this world? Well I have. I admit it. My latest attempt to ask Him into my well-designed classroom came in the form of a 2500-mile-trip to the Pacific Ocean, through Arizona deserts and back home to Colorado.
I told God what I needed, which was direction for my podcast and writing life. My concern was finding which gifts to use for His glory and when. I wanted relief from the overwhelming feeling of urgency to figure out what to do next. I recruited several prayer warriors to ensure we stayed on the decided (by me) course that would yield desired results. Then I set off with pen and paper to find/document answers I sought.
As previously seen, God always has a better plan. Oh, I did learn many things. But the lessons were not about me per se. They were lessons of how to listen to, reflect upon, embrace and learn from others’ view points.
After an exciting event in San Diego where my husband was honored for his lifetime achievements, we ventured to where else in California? The beach. Actually, we were on several beaches. While on one in Carlsbad, CA, we met and talked with a man who is a surfer and inventor. His stories of his travels led us to share some of our travel stories. During the better part of an hour we also discussed football, politics, surfing, dancing, art and food. Now I did not agree with everything he said on certain subjects; and he didn’t agree with me. But we had a cordial conversation that included sharing views and hearing another person’s perspective.
LESSON #1: Yes, we can have conversations that embrace civility, even if we are of differing opinions and have had different experiences.
We were blessed to have a visit from our grandson who journeyed from L.A., to spend an afternoon with us. Not only did he introduce us to the best tacos I’ve had this side of the U.S./Mexico border, we spent several hours just talking and sharing ideas. We discussed politics, football, world economy (included this whole crypto thing) and how his generation views their future minus the need to be property owners.
LESSON #2: The younger generation has much wisdom and sometimes elders can be served well by being in the seat of the student.
After leaving California we went to Arizona. In Yuma, we toured some museums full of Arizona history. At one location, our guide said this museum is bordered on one side by the mighty Colorado River. He expressed great concern over the less than stellar water flow right now. I guess he must have seen my resentment peak because how dare Arizona take “Our” water from Colorado was no doubt written all over my face. I didn’t say this out loud. I didn’t need to. He asked me if I like to eat lettuce in the winter? And how about watermelons and various green leafy veggies? I told him I do like those culinary treats. He looked at the river and asked, “Where do you think the water comes from to support the crops on our truck farms that go to many places in the U.S.?” He was right and I thanked him for helping me shift my perspective.
LESSON #3: I do not own the land, the water or the usages of natural resources in Colorado or anywhere else. God has graced us with resources to share and when we covet and hold onto false truths saying we have ownership, we hurt ourselves and others.
Next stop was the Painted Desert in Arizona. One of my favorite places to sit, think, take pictures and praise God for His amazing, diverse creativity. As I studied the desert made up of different soil types, colors, textures, structures and plant life, I saw what He was trying to tell me. We all are made up of complicated diversity as well and it is okay to embrace our different levels of gifts, talents and not have to pit one against the other. Making it an either/or situation is like removing one of the beautiful hues from the desert floor and focusing only on a couple of colors. How bland that would be.
LESSON #4: We are fearfully and wonderfully made in all our complexity and artistic diversity. The sense of urgency to use this gift or that is not of God. He does not do urgent. And His timing can be relied upon.
Final stop prior to returning home was in Durango, Colorado where we met a friend of ours for coffee. Like us, Shawna recently moved from the Denver Area to the Western Slope. She told us that in the move she got rid of a lot of stuff and not just material belongings. She subtracted things from her life that no longer serve her. Wow what an impact that statement had on me. Could God be any clearer?
LESSON #5: I don’t need all the physical, emotional or spiritual baggage that I pack around. I can give myself permission to sometimes discard what others insist is important, along with the need to constantly be and do more.
As we wound our way through the southern mountain passes en route to our home, I looked at the snow-covered peaks and reflected on the areas we had traversed. We were in six states, covered 2500 miles from mountains to the sea, to the desert and back to the mountains. Although I never get tired of admiring the Colorado Rockies, my mind’s eye focused on the scenes in the Painted Desert. I remembered seeing a gust of wind blow for just a few seconds, playing havoc with the loose sand and shifting it.
It wasn’t a stretch to realize that for me, this trip had been about shifting sands (my personal attitudes and urgent agenda items) too. Maybe the best lesson of all was to let God plan the syllabus in the future.
Copyright Feb 2022, Laura L. Padgett, Montrose, CO
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“Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers. If you live in the U.S. and would like an autographed copy sent directly to you, click on the tab for buying books on my home page
The award-winning “Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Shorts Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments,” available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you live in the U.S. and would like an autographed copy sent directly to you, click on the tab for buying books on my home page.