I drive WEST….anytime I’m at my parents’ house in Tahoka, I can’t wait to get alone in my car and head west.
On Texas Highway 380, I pass my dad’s old farm and recall the years of tractors and weeds and hail storms. I remember the times it seemed to rain on the opposite side of the road and missed our land completely. I can see the spot in the trees where Dad stepped in the middle of two rattlesnakes coiled together and then mozied on over to the truck to get his hoe. I watched as he pummeled the snakes and killed them – as I sat in the truck, mouth open, silently screaming. I thought my Daddy was fearless.
A few miles further west, I pass the semi-famous T-Bar Ranch where I’ve seen hundreds of cattle branded and also watched my little brother ride a horse for the first time at the age of two. I can’t help but laugh at the time the foreman, Frank got irritated at all the cowboys because they came up with different numbers as they were counting cattle. Frank asked my little brother, “Matthew, how many did you count?” Matthew said, “All of them.”
The memories are rushing by outside my car window.
When I drive 380, I always wind up six miles out of town at the “pens” where my Dad and Grandpa used to keep their horses. Behind the rusted gate there stands a hundred-year-old farmhouse where my Grandpa lived as a boy. How many times did I get out of the truck to open all those gates? How many midnights did I spend with my Dad returning the horses to their pasture after a play day or rodeo? How many times did my siblings, cousins and I roast marshmallows at the dog pens and sleep in the back of the pickup? (Well, maybe just once – we were scared of coyotes.)
That house and the barn seem to have left physical imprints on my heart and I have to make an effort to catch my breath as the tears start to come. I love Hwy 380 and I know why.
Several years ago I asked God to show me His favorite moment in my life. It might sound silly, but if you haven’t done that you totally should! If you ask, He will be faithful to bring something to mind and in an instant you will know and you will never forget. What He showed me changed my perspective on who I am in His eyes….
I’m 3-years-old standing between my Dad and Grandpa in the old blue Chevy truck and we are heading west down Hwy 380 towards the pens. With no seatbelt or car seat, I am standing next to my Grandpa with my arm around his neck. I stick my hand out the window and giggle as my hand surfs up and down in the wind. Dad and Grandpa might have discussed business or the farm or horses, but all I remember is being in this place right in the middle of them where I was completely safe and loved beyond anything my little heart could understand. No wonder that is God’s favorite memory – it’s mine too, now.
Eventually, I turn the car around at the farmhouse and naturally head east back towards town. Typically, I drive straight to the cemetery where Grandpa is buried. Where they are all buried. My four grandparents are buried less than 20 feet apart. I stand in the center and feel overwhelming gratitude for a childhood spent with four pillars of Godly, loving grandparents.
So yesterday’s journey up and down Hwy 380 wasn’t unusual until it occurred to me that all of life seems to be headed west. I sojourn through a myriad of memories every time I hit this road and those six miles are such a big part of who I am. But I’m always going west, continuing the journey I started over three decades ago as a child.
And, yet ultimately I always turn around and go east. Then yesterday it hit me! One day we will all turn east at the very same time. Our eyes will catch a great light and in one collective motion we will turn east and see Jesus coming in the clouds.
“For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:27
Do you believe He is coming back? I know we all say it as Christians – but do you think about it, ponder it, imagine it? And do you pray for it? In this day and age I feel more hopeful than ever that He will return for His bride and that the injustices of the world will fade away.
But friend, before that day comes there is work to do. The lost and hurting people are everywhere. And they desperately need to receive the redeeming love of Jesus. There are people who have heard the truth, but deny it because it makes them uncomfortable or because their understanding has been warped by the world or other Christians. There are others who think God is just a myth or a voice in the sky anxious to smack them down for their mistakes.
If we aren’t bringing Jesus to our world, then we are not doing what these last days call for. I feel convicted about my insecurities in sharing my faith and my failures to live out my life where others see Jesus. But Hwy 380 reminds me that Jesus sees us just as we are – His bride, spotless, washed in the blood, and redeemed. I want to live like that 3-year-old girl, fearless and confident in who I am in Him.
Look out your window. Discover who you are in Him. You will not be disappointed. And once you know, you can confidently introduce Him to the world around you. They are waiting.