Stopping Points

This entry was written in June 2007 at the outset of what became a six week, seven thousand mile journey through the Western US.

We arrived at Clayton, New Mexico last night, the first stop in a series that will form the substance of Phase II of this Big Adventure. We left Wichita Falls with some degree of mixed feelings, a bit concerned that our house has not sold and, more importantly that I am still unemployed. We would quite happily forego this part of our journey if we were moving to our next call instead of going back on the road.

Still one can hardly complain about the prospect of the trip that lies before us. We’re on our way to Colorado Springs for four days, then to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming for another five. From there our intent is to head West out to Oregon and Northern California to see the Redwood Forest and the shores of the Pacific Ocean; a journey of many thousands of miles. We expect to be gone five to six weeks. At any point along the way we are prepared to turn and head for home should an opportunity to interview or even to take a job should come along. However, barring that possibility we will be traveling.

So, the first leg: Clayton, New Mexico. Clayton is not a destination in the sense of Colorado or Wyoming. Clayton is a stop along the way. It is a stopping point on the way to or from other places: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and other points more scenic and more interesting. No one comes to Clayton to see Clayton.

We always meet interesting fellow wayfarers at the campgrounds and tonight was no exception. We met a chatty fellow from New York who advised us on some of the better Western sights to see. We met a couple of serious motorcyclists from Illinois and Arkansas. They had the full duds of long distance bikers, complete with the knobby pants (trousers) and the funny shoes and the preponderance of leather and plastic.

I was behind them at the check-in. The guy behind the counter had a name tag that said, “Head Grunt.” I liked that. When he asked the bikers what they needed. I was sure one of them would say, “I need a normal pair of pants.” But, like all of us, he just wanted a night’s camping. “Just one night. We’re just passing through.”

In spite of its reputation as a stopping point Clayton is nonetheless a real place. While it is forgettable in the grand scheme of things it is an actual place. You can find it on the map in the Northeast corner of New Mexico. Stopping points are indeed points.

Often our lives in Christ are considered journeys. Like Pilgrim in John Bunyan’s classic, Pilgrim’s Progress, we are on our way to the Heavenly City. We’re just passing through. Sometimes we need reminders of that. Places that seem like destinations are really just stopping points. As much as we’d like to call a place permanent, we are all in essence merely itinerates. We’re going somewhere else.

But the stopping points are points nonetheless. We learn things at the stopping points that are important for the journey. We refine our road tripping existence.

The Apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthian church, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

We’re going somewhere else. There’s no such thing as a meaningless stopping point. Along the way we have the Spirit of God as our teacher, reminding us of the things that Jesus said. Most importantly we do not despair at the stopping points. We’re not really going there at all. We’re going to heaven, to don our heavenly dwelling.

Thanks be to God!

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