Thirty-odd years ago, I went to college nine hours away from my home town. I didn't make the trek home very often. It wasn't a weekend jaunt. But I drove the road often enough that I learned the rhythm of that stretch of road. I got used to the turns of it. It's not a very interesting drive between my college and home towns. To reduce it to its simplest terms, I might say it's a straight line for two hours, a right turn, follow the winding course on the right side of beside the mighty Columbia River the longest interval, cross over into my home-state, then slant a winding road through dry country and finally into the Palouse. That's the clift-notes version.
For most of that drive, back in the days I drove it often, it was impossible to pick up radio stations along the way. It cut out between Portland and the tri-cities in Washington (which is a VERY long stretch) though somehow, I did manage to listen to the NBA finals complete with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson one June evening as I drove.
Usually, however, I spent my drive differently than even turning on the radio. I remember driving home the first time after getting my first dog. Caspian was a Springer Spaniel (and looked so much like our Jamaica they could have been from the same litter) and was still a tiny puppy that trip. I expected him to stay in the passenger seat, but he was a velcro dog (though I'd never heard the term back then!), and curled up in my lap. Of course I let him stay there, so sweet and soft and not bothering anyone. And of course, that was the ONLY time I ever got stopped by a cop driving through the Columbia River gorge. I was probably speeding, though I don't remember that now.
As I pulled over and stopped the car, Caspian stirred. He was about 12 weeks old, and like a little black and white bird, peeked his head out of the cradle of my lap when the officer came up to my window. The officer took off his hat, looked in, then looked again and smiled. That adorable puppy staring up at him kept me from getting a ticket that day. I even have a faint memory of the officer reaching in and picking up Caspian for a moment. I do remember that I put my puppy on a leash as the officer drove off, so the puppy could do his business before we continued our drive home.
But the other thing I always did as I drove home was open my Bible. In those days the right turn drive through Portland involved traffic lights. At the last one before hitting the freeway East toward the River Gorge, I let my Bible fall open. I'd read the first passage my eyes would land on, and spend hours--yes, hours--trying to preach that passage. Short or long, drawing from whatever other verses I had in my head, I preached my way along the river. Caspian grew accustomed to my voice rising and falling in emphasis.
He was my canine audience, I suppose.
It's a good exercise--I think I'll give such a practice a shot in the coming days.
Tonight, however, I'll leave you with this.
I came across these words in Psalm 18-- "He reached down from on high and took hold of me, He drew me out of deep waters." (verse 16).
These are words I might have preached to in that car long ago. They are certainly words I could preach to. In a single poetic verse, we have the story of our salvation.
Think about it.