An Unexpected Road Trip: The Way It Should Be
"What are we doing next?!"
When I was a child, this was one of my favorite questions to ask whenever my family took a road trip. I loved getting to know what was coming up next in our plans, whether it was where we were eating for dinner or what we were doing for that day's adventures. It excited me even more whenever someone told me that what we had planned was a surprise! That was always a game changer. As I have gotten older, though, I've found surprises to be a bit more painful and the question "What are we doing next?" to be a whole lot more uncertain.
After I returned to the United States from South Korea back in April, the question "What are you doing next?" quickly became my least favorite question. None of us knew what was coming next! Life had become the game from the movie Jumanji, where one roll of the dice changed everything and the unexpected was now expected. I still felt the need to give a good answer to this question, though, so I tried my best developing a well-articulated speech for how I hoped to spend my summer in the middle of a pandemic:
"So James, what are you doing next? How will you be spending your summer?"
"Well, the plan right now is to go down to Florida, where I will be helping with a church plant that my sister is a part of with Church of God, Sarasota, until about August, and then I'm hoping to go on a cross-country road trip out West with some of my friends when everything gets better until I can finally go back to Korea!"
Great answer. The only problem was the "when everything gets better" part. As we all know, August has now passed and, sadly, "everything" has not yet gotten better.
The best part of my plan, though, was making the decision to go down to Florida to be with my sister and Church of God, Sarasota. After arriving in Sarasota, God really caught my attention when I learned that the summer series we were going to be journeying through as a church was entitled "Road Trip! Marching to Zion." As I was still hoping to embark on a road trip of my own at the end of the summer, it seemed rather fitting. What I did not know at this time, though, was that our "Road Trip! Marching to Zion" was going to actually serve as the road trip I really needed in order to get to where I truly was supposed to be.
Each sermon and stop along the way on our road trip led me directly to where I am right now at this very moment. All of the messages preached by both Pastors Marsha and Eric Reeder were just what I needed to hear, and I wanted to highlight three of them with all of you as we all continue making our way on this road trip of life. My hope in sharing these three messages with you is that you will be able to get to exactly where you need to be as well, whether you feel like you are lost right now or right on track.
Make sure you know your "roadies"
The first thing you need to figure out before leaving for a road trip is who's coming with you! The people who you bring along for the journey are often what can make or break it. Choose people in your life who you know will take you in the right direction, especially people who have already been there before. They always have the best recommendations and know what places to avoid. Take along people who genuinely want to go with you, too, and who you know will enjoy the ride wherever it may take you. Everyone is on their own journey; not everyone will want to be a part of yours. And lastly, bring along "roadies" of all ages! Life is better when it is spent with people of every age.
2. Make your trip playlist one of worship
I made many playlists over the summer, but, after hearing this message about making my life road trip playlist one of worship, I realized many of the songs I had been listening to after leaving Korea were ones of sorrow and lament. It is important to grieve in life when something has been lost, whether it is a loved one, a job, or even a special season of life. Moving from a posture of grief to a posture of gratitude looks different for all of us. It does not have to mean putting on a smiling face and acting like you've got it all together. God takes delight in our genuine worship of Him more than anything else. He wants to walk with you through the pain of this life every step of the way. You are not alone on this trip.
3. Make the most of the detour!
This was the most important message I needed to hear this summer. Detours are not bad. Yes, they can often be annoying, but they are meant to protect you. You might not ever get to know what they protected you from, but that is because it never happened! Detours allow for protection from hardship, and they can even one day lead to a new identity and a changed perspective on life if you let them. Stop and smell the flowers on your detour. Look up at the clouds and at the birds in the sky. Listen for what God wants you to hear in a place you never planned to be. It in those places and moments and times that God shows you His love in the most miraculous ways because you are no longer in control. He is now driving the car and you are just along for the journey; the way it should be.
I was correct in saying I would be in Florida until August, but I was wrong about my road trip out West. Our world is still healing and I need to respect that so God got me a job instead. I am now living on St. Simons Island in Georgia and working for the Georgia Ports Authority, the fastest growing international port in the United States, at their Brunswick office as an Operations Administrative Coordinator. When I first arrived, I was welcomed by my Aunt Leslie and Uncle Mack, and I am now in the process of moving into a house with a group of guys who work for The Gathering Place, a local ministry that works with middle school, high school, and college age students here in Georgia.
The transition to life here in Georgia has been one of the fastest and most seamless I have ever experienced—and I have now experienced many transitions from one place to another so that is definitely saying something. I have been here for less than a week, but it already feels so right. Just in the last few days, there have been several moments in which I could not deny that God was at work in miraculous ways; His timing always astounds me. My hope is that I will still eventually be able to return to South Korea, but I have now placed those plans into God's hands (and the hands of Fulbright Korea). What I do know for sure right now, after finishing out my summer in Florida and beginning this new season of life here in Georgia: I have so many incredible people who are on this road trip of life with me, cheering me on every step of the way, my road trip playlist is one of absolute worship, and I am going to keep making the most of this detour God currently has me on.
So, what am I doing next? I have no idea. I'm not in control of this ship; Jesus is my Captain and I'm just following His lead—wherever He wants to take me; the way it should be.
James Davisson is just a small man with a big heart, serving a much bigger God.