Getting Ahead: Taking the shortcut

By John G. Pfeifer - Religion Columnist

For almost 30 years we traveled in a bus about 1,500 miles a week across the country doing concerts. Most of those years were before the GPS or Map Quest, so we used an atlas to lay out our routes. The interstate routes were blue, the state routes were red and the county routes were gray. It was best to stay on the blue and red routes when possible.

Sometimes it would appear that a gray route would cut off some miles and it could be a temptation to take it. One night our drummer was taking his turn driving while everyone was sleeping and he decided to take a gray route. As I recall his decision, the only thing he could have been thinking was that he would save some time and get to bed sooner. It was, however, a terrible decision. I woke up because he was driving so slow that I thought we were pulling into our destination.

As I approached the front of the bus and could see out the front window, I saw the reason we were moving at a snail’s pace. The road was no wider than the bus and tree limbs were hanging onto the road. We were traveling through a forest on a one-lane road. He stopped the bus, got out the atlas, and showed me our present location on a gray road. I told him that I felt that we should turn around and get back on a state route; but as we moved forward, looking for a place to turn around, it became obvious there was no such place. I then looked at the map to see if we might back out but the state route was now many miles behind us. The only option we seemed to have was to move forward on this gray road that the map showed coming out on another state route ahead.

As we proceeded the road became narrower and the pavement ran out. Now we were on a one-lane gravel road. Being raised in southern Ohio, I had driven on gravel roads so we decided that I would drive. Dodging tree limbs and moving ever slower, the road then turned into a logging trail. I had never driven a 45-foot long, eight-foot wide and 13-foot tall bus on a logging trail. This looked like a hopeless situation that was going to end up bad but I was forced to continue. After about 20 minutes on the logging trail the gravel reappeared, after awhile the road turned back to asphalt and soon we saw a house at the corner of the state highway that the map had told us was there.

As I look back on this experience I recall the many thoughts that went through my mind as I was driving on that logging trail. I had decided that if I could find a house, I would call a tow truck to back all the way in behind us and pull us back out; but there were no houses there. When the road of life seems to have ended up on a narrow logging trail to nowhere, do we tend to look for someone else to pull us out of our mess or do we look for an atlas that can show us the road ahead?

These and other life questions will be addressed Sunday morning as “The Gathering Place Family” meets in the Washington High School Gymnasium at 10 a.m. for our Pre-Service Connection where we enjoy coffee, juice and donuts. Our Worship Service and Children’s Church then begins at 10:30. Come at 7 p.m. and be part of our Wednesday night Bible Study and Children’s Ministry on the third floor above Trends at 120 West Court St. in Washington C.H.

By John G. Pfeifer

Religion Columnist