Pete and I love road trips. When we fly, we miss everything between our home and our destination, but with a road trip we can turn off at every interesting sign. (I particularly like brown signs, as they usually imply some sort of natural feature or wildlife refuge.)
Ten years ago, during a particularly stressful time in our lives, Pete gave me the gift of a month-long road trip, all by myself. I had the luxury of wandering wherever God led, while he took care of everything at home. (Yet another reason I adore my husband!)
I was gone for the entire month of June, mostly driving around the Pacific Northwest. I had a station wagon I could sleep in, a small electric cooler, and—being a new birder—my binoculars. Most of the time, the only person I had to talk to was God. In the peace and quiet of my Subaru, I learned to more clearly hear God’s voice.
I won’t go into all the topics we discussed. Most involved learning to de-stress, let go, and trust Him in situations I wasn’t naturally equipped to handle. But sandwiched between the teaching moments were times when God became my tour guide, giving me practice at listening to His direction and quickly obeying.
For example, I was heading west from Tacoma, planning to camp at the beach somewhere. I knew that there were three campgrounds to choose from, but I had no idea what any of them looked like. As I approached the coast, I asked God which way I should go. I immediately sensed that I was to spend the night at the campground to the south, near Ocean Shores. It was gorgeous. As school was still in session in early June, the place was nearly empty. (An older couple with a cute little girl I took to be their granddaughter were camped several sites away, putting me at ease.) I picked a sheltered spot next to the dunes and fell asleep to the sound of the pounding surf just beyond.
The next morning I got on the road and drove north, passing the other two campgrounds. Both were clearly designed for RVs—giant paved parking lots with hookups. No dunes. No surf. No greenery of any sort.
Several weeks later I was in southern Idaho, on my way back to Colorado. Again, I had a choice of places to stop along the Snake River, and again, God was clear on which one I was to pick. I followed the back road to one of the nicest state campgrounds I’ve ever stayed at. Green, grassy sites well separated by dense foliage surrounded the central bathroom facilities—individual, private rooms with hot showers! I circled the loop until I felt a nudge, then pulled in to discover some California Quail sitting on the picnic table—another little reminder that God loves me. Later that evening, three fluffy Great Horned Owlets stumbled through the open space behind my car. They had fledged but couldn’t yet fly, and were amazingly tolerant of my careful approach as I enjoyed their bumbling antics. God is the most amazing tour guide!
Two days later I reached Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, in Utah. I planned to just drive through, but again got that strong sense from God: “Turn left here!” The side road just dead ended in a fishing spot but I turned anyway. “Turn right here. Park there. Open your window. Look!”
And right outside the driver’s side of the car was my first Sage Grouse!
We can’t all take the time for a month-long road trip, but we can schedule time into our busy lives to stop, look, and listen to God. A personal retreat can be as short as a few hours, if that’s all the time you can take, but a weekend is ideal—I know it takes me a while to put my lists out of my head and still my internal monologue.
With the approach of the holidays, and what is for many of us the busiest time of the year, block out extra time now to spend with God. He wants to spend time with you.