The Search for Something Insignificant
A few months ago, we took a family road trip to another state. It was the longest car ride we have had as a family to date. (With the addition of a thunderstorm and some heavy rush hour traffic, the entire trip took twelve hours.) A few hours into the ride, I realized that I hadn't taken the time to grab my morning cup of joe. While that might not sound like a big deal to many of you, it sure is to me: besides Jesus, coffee really is the fuel that gets me moving in the morning. (HA!) So, I mentioned to my husband that I would like to stop at a Dunkin' Donuts. Well, trying to find a Dunkin' Donuts on the highway in the middle of nowhere upstate New York is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Eventually, we saw a big sign off of the highway that announced that a Dunkin' Donuts was at a nearby gas station. Like a beacon beckoning me with its caffeinated light of luxury, I had to answer that call. So, we drove off the exit as my anticipation was building and hope was bubbling up inside of me. Only, that bubble was about to burst. Unfortunately, the Dunkin' Donuts had been taken out a week prior to our ill-timed arrival, but the highway department had not removed the sign yet. Begrudgingly, I bought some little snack to tide me over and we kept going. As we drove, I continued to look out the window, just hoping that I would see that amazing DD sign somewhere in my near future...
An hour later (sigh) and one state over, we started seeing signs of civilization again. These signs included signs for food and gasoline. We saw a Dunkin' Donuts sign and decided to exit off of the highway to find that marvelous coffee. After driving a good five miles, we realized that we hadn't seen any follow-up signs or any Dunkin' Donuts anywhere. Slightly miffed, I decided to check my smart phone to see if my phone could at least find what we couldn't. Lo and Behold, the Dunkin' Donuts did exist, but it was in the middle of a mall. Therefore, I would have had to get out of the car, meander through a mall, and then wait in a line. Nope, no thanks. Additionally, that defeated the whole "easy on/easy off" type of drive-thru experience I was seeking. I was beginning to think I was seeking in vain. As we drove down the road to get back onto the highway, my husband spotted a Barnes and Noble. I decided to settle on a Starbucks coffee. Great! Problem solved: I'd go inside, grab a coffee quickly, and we'd be on our way. Only, it didn't work out quite like that...
When I went inside, I saw that there was a small line at the Starbucks counter. So, I decided to walk around and look at some books for just a little bit. Eventually, I moseyed on over to the coffee counter again. Although there were only three people waiting in line, there was definitely a delay! The barista was the only one working! So, she'd take a person's order and THEN start working on the order of the person who was in front of that person in line. The process of waiting was painfully excruciating, and I decided that I didn't really want to wait after all. Besides, I had really had it in my head that I wanted a specific drink from Dunkin Donuts. (Ah, don't we all get like that sometimes...)
I went back out, complained to my ever-patient-how-does-he-deal-with-my-crazy-antics husband, and we continued on our journey. Another hour passed, and FINALLY, I saw a Dunkin Donuts sign...AGAIN. Skeptical, given my previous experiences that day, I asked my ever-patient-how-does-he-deal-with-my-crazy-antics husband to take that particular exit off of the highway so I could FINALLY get my coffee.
Amazingly, we were there in just a matter of minutes. This Dunkin' Donuts really DID exist. WOOT! (I pinched myself first to make sure that it wasn't just a mirage...given my current state of mind. I was beginning to think that I was going to suffer from coffee-deprivation!) I grabbed my iced vanilla latte with coconut and mocha flavoring (with almond milk)...ahhhh...and we were on our way back to the highway. Unfortunately for my ever-patient-how-does-he-deal-with-my-crazy-antics husband, he had gotten a drink that wasn't made the way it's made here in NY. Poor guy. He wasn't too happy. He put up with all of my craziness, just to be disappointed with his own drink. My drink, I must say, was good, though! I was happy. I was satisfied. We were driving on the highway again...and, oh no, we were very low on gas.
Here's where the irony comes in: When we FINALLY found a Dunkin' Donuts, it was directly across from a gas station. DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM. Yep, you read that correctly. We were off of the highway at an exit and had a gas station at our disposal. Did we even THINK about filling up the tank? Nope. We were too concerned about getting my coffee. Wow. So, we drove several miles on the highway looking for an exit, with me absolutely panicking about going empty. We did, fortunately, eventually find an exit with a gas station. For a while there, though, it was kind of scary and I kept picturing the four of us abandoned alongside the busy highway, waiting for AAA to come save us as millions of cars zoomed past us.
So, here's the point: There I was chasing after my so-called "fuel," and I totally missed the fact that we were almost running on empty. Which was more important in this situation, really? As much as I'd like to think it was my java, it wasn't! Without fuel in our vehicle, we weren't going to go ANYWHERE. So, I have to ponder this question: Have I ever done this in my spiritual life, in my walk with the Lord? In this journey in the here and now, do I focus so much on what I want at the moment
--on the temporal --that I miss a good "fill-er up" that I really needed from the REAL source? Am I spending my time looking for what matters, or am I wasting time looking (in vain, I might add) for something that doesn't really matter?
When our vacation was over and we were ready to start the long drive home, I grabbed a coffee in the hotel lobby before we took off. Additionally, my husband and I kept our eyes open for gas stations...well before we needed them! Lesson learned.