There was a band called MAE who released an album called Destination: Beautiful many moons ago. I always think about it when embarking upon a road trip, especially when the destination will be somewhere beautiful. But there’s more to a road trip than the destination.

During my visit to the Balkans this year, my wife really wanted to go to Croatia. It was about a 6 hour drive from where we were staying in Albania. We loaded up my parents’ car with our two children and our nephew and took off early in the morning. Here’s the thing, I always struggle with the beginning of a road trip.

I get a little sleepy right at the beginning, no matter what the time of day is. Then, about 20-30 minutes in, I started second-guessing why we’re even taking this trip. I think of how else I could be spending these 6 hours (I dream of lounging). I think of how much cheaper it would be NOT to drive. How much less it would cost me NOT to have to book a room. How much less personal investment it would take NOT to have to be patient with 4 other people in such close quarters. I think of how nice it would be to NOT listen to the same song over and over at my son’s request (He’s a big Yeezy fan). It’s a big overall investment.

Then, that big investment turns into something even more involved and difficult. Between baby stops, food breaks, and border issues, we were on the road for 16 hours and crossed 4 countries that day. 16 hours with a 1, 3, and 12 year old. No public restrooms. Unfamiliar roads. Unclear road signs (when there were some). You see, no matter how much you think you know or try to plan a trip, you can’t control everything. No matter how beautiful the destination is, there is some work to be done to get there.

Such is my walk in pursuing Jesus. My destination is being in God’s eternal presence, forever! However, there’s work to be done. There’s a path that’s riddled with adversity and complications. I am called to be sacrificial daily. I’d like to just cruise and enjoy my ride with my own music and at my own pace, but there are people I’m called to love around me. Whenever I drive and I start getting sleepy, I can stop and get some coffee. I need that same jolt in my walk. My scripture is my roadmap so I know where I’m heading and how to get there. Community is the friend that tells me how he got a ticket, so drive carefully there. Fellowship is the snacks and meal breaks I take to replenish so I have the strength to finish. A co-worker that is struggling is the hitchhiker that just needs that small lift as she pursues her path to her destination. Financial problems are my flat tires or overheated engine. The moments of joy and fulfillment are those drives next to the water as the sun hits it just right.

Life is a difficult and challenging road trip. We are called to serve and sacrifice for those around us. It should have personal cost. But that cost becomes insignificant when you remember how beautiful our destination is. That’s a promise.