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Cruise Control

I love to drive and there’s nothing I enjoy so much as a road trip. In fall 2021, an injury threatened my driving enthusiasm. I first noticed it when Kent and I drove up to the Issaquah Alps one night in hopes of seeing a near total lunar eclipse. We didn’t manage to see it, but we made a nice loop out I-90 and home SR202. By the time we got home, I was in acute pain in my right hamstring.

As 2022 dawned, the hamstring was still pestering me. When Kent suggested we drive from California to Washington to bring home family mementoes as his parents prepared to clear out their home of 47 years, I had reason to be nervous.

I prayed that God would help us make the decision and enable us to do whatever had to be done.

We flew down to visit Kent’s family in mid-January when his mom went in the hospital. We were not permitted to see her because of the COVID Omicron surge. Then Kent’s dad tested positive for COVID, without symptoms after many days of family togetherness. How could we fly with the possible COVID exposure? But it made no sense to stay longer in California when we couldn’t see either of Kent’s parents.

So, we shifted gears. We selected and carefully crammed precious memorabilia into our rented Camry. We drove to Oakland airport, uncrammed Camry #1, carefully crammed Camry #2 (cheaper rate for the one-way trip) and by 8:08am were truly on our way north on I-5. It was the Sunday of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.

We expected a tiring day. But God gave us an amazing day. It was sweet to remember making the identical trip many times before, with small children falling asleep in southern Washington and waking the next morning in northern California (and vice versa) while we propped open our eyelids and drove through the night. We remembered many family trips to places like Mt. Shasta, Ashland, Eugene, Portland, and favorite family stops at the Nut Tree in Vacaville, Country Cousin in Centralia, and the Dairy Queen in Yelm that had a juke box.

It was the perfect day to drive I-5 - the middle day of a three-day weekend. No work-day traffic, no weekend traffic and no holiday traffic. Winter though it was, and we’d had prior experience of dense fog in the Siskiyous, and snow is surely possible in winter, the skies were clear and gorgeous for all 800 miles.

The happiest provision of all was cruise control. I’ve never loved cruise control. My line is “I ENJOY driving.” But the cruise control enabled my hamstring to rest a lot, so much so that I never got to the point of acute pain. It was amazing, a gift from our good, good God!

Of course, there’s plenty of time to think on a road trip. I pondered Paul’s call to “set your mind on things above, where Christ is” (Colossians 3:1) My times of reading the Bible, of waiting on God, is that like setting the cruise control of my soul? With my mind set in a Spirit-saturated framework, can my spiritual muscles rest in God while the work of life carries on? I can go back to manual control at any time – stop to pray, stop to look up God’s word – as situations arise. Setting the cruise control (Christ control??!) of my mind at the beginning of the day seems a great way to go the distance.

As for our road-trip, we had one more uncram/recram session at SeaTac airport when we picked up our own car and turned in Camry #2 late that night, just in time. We dropped into our own beds at 11pm, full of gratitude. And postponed the final unpacking until the next day.

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