I am by nature a wanderer and a loner. A group of us preachers-in-training sat in a room one day years ago, and I asked the question: “I wonder what it would be like to be on staff at a huge church?” A colleague laughed his patootie off, then opined: “You need to command your own starship and boldly go where no one has gone before!”
People in our neck of the woods like to poke good-natured fun at me for my MINI Cooper, my combat boots and cargo shorts and my frenetic, kinetic ways. If my hair was as thick and rich as it used to be, I suppose I’d grow my hair out long again and give folks something else to talk about, too. I am not, by nature, a country gent. And yet I have been told on more than one occasion that I somehow embody the best of the “red-neck” spirit.
“Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.” I’ve learned to dance in New England, on the outskirts of the Mississippi Delta, and currently, I am enjoying an extended jig in these lovely foothills of Appalachia. And on reflection, it becomes quite apparent that the rabbis were correct: “Man plans, God laughs.”
When I started preacher school, I didn’t realize that my destiny was to be a small-town country parson or any number of other things that I am today. I do still dream sometimes of biking across Great Britain or exploring the African plains or “a thousand things I’ve never done before.” But the real surprise present? You can be a tourist in your own hometown. Unlock treasures outside your back door. Traverse the cosmos without leaving your easy chair. It takes faith. “He went out, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). Good journey.