Driving any distance, especially on long road trips, paves the way for any number of life metaphors. Given that any commute has a planned start and end with several planned or unplanned stops in between, the parallels to life’s journey and struggle are as copious as are the number of Waffle Houses on any southern vacation drive.
Dr. Steven Lee, the pastor at Decatur City Church, recently completed a sermon series rife with these driving metaphors, called “Road Trip: Finding Joy in the Journey.” Dr. Lee and his wife, parents of six, choose to drive on almost any trip, because flying that caboodle is just plain pricey. As he unfolded the three tenets of the series, Lee peppered in plenty of funny and poignant anecdotes about his family’s road trip experiences and then drew both spiritual and life applications to which even the agnostic and childless could relate.
Dr. Lee taught mainly from James 1, which urges people to consider their struggles joy, because of the character they build and the hope that exists at the end of every story.
Again, religious or not, that is a lesson that any of us needs reminding of in a time of duress.
Lee’s three lessons in this series also apply to actual driving and are worth remembering before our next forays into Atlanta traffic.
If you miss your exit, keep going
The life lesson here is simple, but often forgotten: do not stop because of mistakes or obstacles. We have a life worth living, no matter the struggles.
On the roadways, of course, this is extremely practical - and incredibly frustrating when not taken to heart. If drivers encounter distractions or have bad directions, they should not stop in the middle of the freeway or back up on the shoulder to try and make that missed exit or turn.
Mistakes happen, but our immediate, adrenalized, emotional solutions to them often draw worse consequences than simply and calmly going up to the next exit or road and doubling back.
Stopping on the road inconveniences others and puts everyone nearby in danger. Backing up on the shoulder to make an exit is just reckless.
In life, freezing up during a time of stress is hard not to do, but that often makes the problem worse. And, of course, there are many that get so fed up that they choose to end their earthly journey on their own accord, an act which is tragic. We have to keep going.
Don’t be afraid to ask for directions
Asking for directions or help is also a straightforward moral for life. Just reasoning problems with our own biased, emotional understanding can lead us down the wrong paths. Pinging a neutral helper or an expert in that field is almost always beneficial.
Fear of asking for help with navigating has traditionally been harder for us men. But the convenience of GPS apps has made driving better for everyone in many ways. However, setting and forgetting a set of automated directions should not be a driver’s modus operandi.
Drivers should punch in those destinations before the trip. They should check the suggested routes to make sure the algorithm is really sending them the best ways. And motorists should check traffic conditions with live, local reporters on their route, or at least with whatever data their apps provide.
Getting surprised by a backup or a closure conjures much more frustration than when the carpool is expecting that inconvenience.
And when the cell service is failing and a commuter really is lost, pulling over in a safe place and asking a local for help is a far better option than burning gas in circles.
Focus on the finish
When we are down on ourselves, the voices in the dark often trick us into thinking there is no light on the other end. There always is. From a faith perspective, this hope is more tangible. But that aside, there never is a reason to think that a trial cannot end on an upswing. Even the worst moment in someone’s life can bequeath a lesson or charity. That said, people should never give up and should let that ray of hope be the rabbit they chase to the finish.
In our motoring trials, this axiom is so obviously true. Yes, afternoon rush hour is teeth-grinding. But what stands at the finish? Dinner? Seeing the family? The weekend? Peace and quiet?
The finish of a road trip bring the beach, the mountains, or some other kind of vacation.
Morning drive’s completion may just deposit our tired behinds at jobs, which do not excite the average person. But what is at the completion or is the result of that job? Earning a living, gaining experience, finding another job, or the aforementioned after-work plans.
The present matters for many reasons, including how it informs the wonderful finish for all of us.
If we forge ahead both in our lives and on the roads with these ideas in mind - keep going, ask for help, and focus on the pay off - the rough edges of both endeavors will be much smoother in the long run.
Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. Download the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App to hear reports from the WSB Traffic Team automatically when you drive near trouble spots. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.
©2023 Cox Media Group