Recently, I have been on the road again – traveling north about 4 hours from our home to work southwest of Chicago, near Joliet, with a team that is interested in growing and becoming more efficient. Originally, I went up once last December for the purpose of donating time and trying to help the participants. I thought that would be it, but as sometimes happens, I was asked to come back and work with the team on a regular basis for at least a year.
This was something of a change for me. For the first 30 years that Janet and I were married, I don’t think that we spent more than 30 nights apart – total. Then, I founded myself working in Cincinnati and had to travel weekly for almost 2 years. Suddenly, I was platinum status with Marriott and diamond status with Hilton. Even today, years later, I think I have more than half a million unused points with Marriott and almost as many with Hilton. After the project in Cincy, I thought my travel days were over. I was wrong.
I travelled at least twice a month to the southern parts of Indiana to work with teams there and the assignment kept getting extended. In fact, extended enough that I put almost 80,000 miles on my car during the 3-1/2 years that I committed to the project. That’s a ton of windshield time and since I rarely listen to the radio, most of that drive time was spent in reflection, prayer or silence. I know that may sound crazy to some of you, but I really couldn’t care less if I didn’t even have a radio in the car.
Last September, that project ended and I started looking forward to a little more free time – I guess you could say semi-retirement. I worried a little about what that would look like, and in a prior post I wrote about struggling with becoming a PIP – a previously important person…. All in all it hasn’t been too bad, and both Janet and I are adjusting to a life that is less hectic, with the exception of illness and medical issues that we have struggled with starting with her broken upper arm last December.
As the dust has settled and we have become accustomed to a new routine, it really didn’t occur to me that another project was even in the cards. But once again, I was wrong. So I find myself back in the car, driving miles upon miles, to once again help a team achieve higher performance. And I enjoy the work. I really find that keeping myself sharp and in the middle of things does wonders for me. But I have had to get used to driving again. I still enjoy it, but traversing the cornfields of Indiana and Illinois does get a little boring! And while I have seen the landscape change with all the wind generators dotting the northern counties of the state, it still doesn’t have the beauty of West Virginia or Pennsylvania.
One thing that I have been fortunate to experience is that I have been welcomed in all the various cities and towns that I have travelled to. But that wasn’t the case with the disciples. Jesus send them out into the countryside to preach the Good News. Yet they weren’t accepted in many places. Jesus told them how to handle this when it happened. And that is our verse for the evening – How Jesus instructed his disciples to travel from city to city – and they didn’t have cars. Travel was dirty and difficult.
Luke tells us in his Gospel, in Luke 10:8-11, “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’”
We really don’t know how often they were not welcomed, but they couldn’t have been all that popular with the message they were trying to get everyone to accept – that the Kingdom of God was near… My encouragement tonight is that it is still important to Jesus that we all realize that the Kingdom of God is near – and my prayer is that we all realize that we are those disciples that Jesus wants to carry the message of the Good News to the far corners of the earth. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…