28 Miles

by DanWolgemuth on July 31, 2009

Before trips were marked by MapQuest, Google maps, Yahoo maps, or elaborate GPS devices, I had the unique opportunity to mark one route in particular with memories as rich and inspirational as anything that secured the outside edges of my personal foundation. This journey was repeated many, many times in my life. It was 28 miles from O'Hare Airport in Chicago to 103 East Park in Wheaton, Illinois; about a 40-minute trip. My mother would skillfully manage the clock and purposefully and precisely retrieve my father from the curb outside of baggage claim at United Airlines.

It was a flawless system… my father, handsome to the core, stood by the edge of the road; hard-sided and hand-carried Samsonite bag at his side. He waited by an open parking space so that my mother could whip our car into the appropriate spot. She’d race to the back of the vehicle, unlock the trunk… suitcase would be placed in an empty trunk. My father, often gone for weeks on end, would then embrace my mother for an efficient, tender, and passionate greeting.

My sister, Debbie, and I would watch through the window… waiting for the moment that he would burst through the driver’s side door and slide into his spot on the left side of the front seat. In a matter of seconds the car was started and we were moving away from our spot. Moments at the curb at OHare were precious… even then.

As we merged into traffic, the strong hand of my father would reach back for a tender and reassuring squeeze of the small hands in the back seat. Sam was home.

About that time the car would begin to fill with the smell of stale cigarettes that my father had been the unhappy recipient of while cooped up on a multi-hour international flight. But none of that mattered. He was home… and while we knew with great certainty that he loved us deeply, what we wanted most was to hear about the experiences that had marked his journey, and more importantly, his soul.

Forty minutes evaporated. Stories… rich… moving… powerful and personal crossed the transom to the back seat, and more importantly, to my soul. Yes, Sam was home.

What was clear, and vivid, and beautiful was how much Sam loved the mission to which God had called him. He was like a child on Christmas morning as he discovered the rich and abundant treasure of seeing God work in the hearts and lives of young people around the world. It was there… over and over and over again, that I learned the significance of a mission bigger than oneself. A mission that obliterated selfishness and marched my father into the presence of his Heavenly Father.

In 28 miles my life changed…

And now… under the watchful eyes of my own children, and my own precious wife; I live inside a mission that I love; to the core. God, through Christ, in me, for the sake of the least and the lost.

Yes, so much bigger than me. Mission. Calling. And the power of God at work.

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