My wife and I just don’t do things NORMAL, I guess. The expected way… The tried and tested…
When you go on vacation, it’s a pretty good idea to know where you’ll be staying, right? You should probably have a travel plan and reservations and all that. But you could just drop the kids off at Grandma’s house and drive.
Months ago, we decided to mark our 25th Anniversary with a trip to the redwoods of the northern California coast. The normal thing would have been to map out the route, make reservations, and develop some kind of itinerary. We started looking at places to stay and things to do in the area, but stopped short of anything resembling a plan. We would head west, toward the Redwood National Parks and see what happens. That was the extent of the plan.
We’d drive however far we decided and do whatever we saw to do along the way and stay wherever we ended up. We were camping in our van, so theoretically, we could park about anywhere for the night, right? After doing a little research, it turns out there are even a handful of businesses that typically welcome overnight parking lot guests. I will confess, however, that after the first night parked at a Cabela’s in Reno, I limited our camping nights to actual, established campgrounds. That was much better and felt a lot less weird.
I suppose this flexible approach wouldn’t work for most normal people, but it worked great for us. We enjoyed the flexibility of being able to move slowly through the days, not having to reach a certain place just because that’s where a room was reserved. We had a minimal plan and less of an agenda. Our vacation wasn’t built around a plan or agenda, but around the time we’d be spending together. We were literally within a few feet of each other for just about every minute of 14 days. That’s what mattered and that’s what made the experience so great. We genuinely like each other and enjoyed sharing the experience with each other.
As I think about it, we’ve pretty much lived our whole marriage that way, in some respects. We were barely out of high school when we got married. And when I say barely, I mean like… 10 days or so, maybe two weeks. I had no career, no established source of income, or life experience, and I was quitting the part-time job I did have to move 500 miles away to go to Bible college. We’d go together. That was the extent of the plan. That doesn’t work for normal people.
But it’s exactly what’s worked for us, and I think there’s a reason… Our lives are not built around a plan, but around a person. We’ve built our marriage around Jesus and that has made all the difference in the world. We’re able to be responsive to him, while working toward his mission to show people what God’s love looks like. Maybe that sounds a little hokey to you or even pretentious, but the truth is our marriage works not because we’re two good people deeply in love and committed to each other. It works because God is good and has transformed our lives together. (Not incidentally, part of that transformation has been to grow us deeply in love and commitment to each other.)
He has made something new out of us. Something to display His love to the people around us. That’s the only agenda, and it’s been an adventure for these past 25 years. I still can’t say I have what most would call a plan for the next 25, but I do know I have a great partner for the journey and a great God who’s already working to prepare us for the road ahead.