Brian and I just drove more than three thousand miles across twelve states over the better part of eleven days. This isn’t the first time we’ve made this trip since moving to Texas thirteen months ago, and it probably won’t be the last. Why do we do this?
Well, it’s not because we crave the mind-dulling, bottom-numbing hours of highway driving, or the jaw-clinching-white-knuckled-tension inducing ping of ice on the windshield, or the patience-testing-crawl of construction zones. And it’s certainly not the lure of damp, slimy, smelly, toilet-paperless gas station bathrooms that compels us to pack our bags and fill the tank.
No, there’s only one reason why we put ourselves through days-long, caffeine-fueled, satellite-radio-saturated road trips: Spending precious time with the people we love.
Seriously, a road trip is not that difficult, and Brian and I really don’t mind being locked together in a confined space with fast-food-coffee and stale licorice for hours on end… well, not too much, anyway… because time with our loved ones is worth it.
However, can you imagine how heartbroken Brian and I would be if, after going to all that trouble, no one carved time out of their busy schedules to see us? What if time with us was just not as important to them as it is to us? What if our friends and family preferred watching a TV show, doing laundry, or texting with someone else rather than visiting with us?
What if the people we wanted to see just assumed the road trips were nothing to Brian and me; that it cost us nothing to go see them? I don’t think anyone would go out of his or her way to spend time with us. They would probably assume that we’d be back eventually, and they’d catch us the next time.
Fortunately, that is not the case; every time Brian and I pulled into a driveway — our son’s in Texas, Brian’s parents’ in Illinois, my mom’s in Ohio, our son’s in Georgia — we were greeted with hugs, smiles and kisses. We always felt loved. And we always felt like our road-weary fatigue was appreciated.
One thing needs to be made clear: We don’t make the trip to elicit or extort love from anyone, we make the trip because we love these people and we desire to build and maintain relationships with them. The love we have for them doesn’t have to be earned, it is simply given.
This is somewhat similar to God’s love for us: We can’t earn it, he simply gives it. Because God gives love so freely, I think we sometimes forget how much it cost God to have a relationship with us, and I think sometimes we take that relationship for granted; I know I do.
Sometimes we might even get things backward and think that we are the ones who go to the trouble to meet with God. We may think that clearing our schedules in order to have a few minutes of time with God is considerably more troublesome on our parts than on God’s.
Perhaps we need to make another point clear: It cost God a great deal to initiate a relationship with us and he did it because he loves us. God didn’t send his son to elicit our love; God sent Jesus because he loved us.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
We must never take for granted what Jesus endured to provide for a relationship between our sinful selves and our holy God.
“They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. Then they led him away to crucify him.” Matthew 27:28-29a, 30, 31b NIV
Our ability to have a relationship with God cost Him more than we could ever pay. Therefore, our privilege to come before his presence, to enter his gates, to bow before his throne, is a gift of His grace.
I cannot fathom the difficulty of the road Jesus traveled throughout his lifetime on earth. In my mind’s eye, every demon in hell had an opportunity to tempt Jesus to sin – and every demon in hell failed as Jesus stood firm to the very end. Even Satan himself was not successful in his temptations.
On the basis of Jesus’ perfectly righteous life, his death in our place on our behalf on the cross, his resurrection and exaltation, we can come before God anytime!
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV
Your time with God doesn’t come cheap! Does the way you approach your daily scheduled time reflect the eternal value God places on it? Will you consider your time together with God as a precious gift purchased at a great cost – purchased not with silver or gold, but with the blood of Christ?