Friday, May 25, 2012

Planning a vacation is like writing a sermon...

I'm planning my first cross-country trip with my family (I can't get the song, "Holiday Road" out of my head). Myself, my wife and daughter, as well as my sister-in-law and her daughter are all packing into a van and driving to the Grand Canyon.

Well, I just decided that was the destination.

I was leaning toward the Grand Tetons/Yellowstone, but I apparently had to book hotels a LOT earlier. And there were a LOT of hotels to book, and none of them allowed you to see what dates were open... you just had to enter dates and hope for the best. Most didn't have even two nights in a row. Sheesh. Frustrating.

I have spent a ton of time on the internet, at AAA (not very helpful at all), and talking with people trying to plan this trip. And honestly, it was getting frustrating. Hotels were hundreds of dollars a night or everything was booked. Someone offered to lend me their trailer and, for a while, I thought we would be camping. Then my ever-wise father-in-law reminded me that I would be doing the work setting up and getting stuff ready after driving 12-15 hours a day, with kids, and maybe I should just stay in hotels. He's a very wise man.

But this was not an enjoyable thing to be doing. Until....

A watershed moment: a friend and former Centralite offered me her family's time share. One possible location was just over 2 hours from the Grand Canyon (and about the same distance -- day trips -- from some other areas I thought about going like the painted desert, some other national parks, etc).

First, this was an amazing act of generosity. It cut my vacation costs in half, at least.

But it did something else.

It provided a destination.

Knowing that we were going to that spot, and that it would be our "home base" for a week, allowed me to plan around that destination. And suddenly my trip planning fell into place. What was initially taking days, even weeks to plan, I mostly did in a couple of hours.

And now it's MUCH more fun.

And although I'm on sabbatical and not supposed to be working, I immediately thought of preaching.

I can spend FOREVER getting started. For me to write a sermon, I need to figure out a key point. The destination. This one idea I want everyone "to get."

And I can spend a LOT of time trying to discover that one destination.

I can read book after book. Study ideas and words. Write pages and pages and pages that I know will eventually end up on the cutting room floor. But I need to get that one destination.

And once I uncover that destination, the rest is so much easier.

Then, all I really need to do is to figure out the best path to get there. When do I want to take the time to "take in the sights" and do a couple of leisurely side trips, and when do I just need to "plow through Kansas" while the kids are complaining in the back. And then, how do I "get home" once the point is made? And how long do I take to get there so people don't get too tired of sitting? What do I want them to remember after the trip is done?

But getting that "destination" makes it all easier. Getting that one thing make the rest of it flow.

And maybe life is that way. Maybe when we "get" the big idea, all the other ideas flow naturally from that.

When asked what the greatest commandment was... sheesh, there were 613 of them... Jesus said, "Love God, love people. Everything else is a side trip. Everything else supports that one place. That one idea.

By the way, I"m VERY thankful for my gracious friend and her family for her gift of our destination. Thanks for loving me and my family through your act of generosity. I know you are reading this... so thanks. I'm very grateful.


Daniel said...

Good stuff. Love the connection to sermon writing. But why the Grand Canyon? I hear that downtown Newark is lovely this time of year.

paul said...

'Cause nothin' says "family friendly" like downtown Newark.

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