I’ll be driving, thanks.

(Don’t miss the post script at the end.)

“Thanks, pastor. I plan to arrive Saturday in time to meet you for dinner. My travel arrangements? Oh, I’ll be driving.”

Now, I don’t mind flying to preach in your church. Next month in fact, I’ll be taking a plane to Orlando for a revival meeting, and the following month to Denver for a Sunday morning service in Aurora.

Last March, I flew to Italy for a week. I don’t mind flying.

But I’d rather drive if that’s doable.

Later this week, for instance, I’ll be driving to a weekend of ministry for a church in the Fort Worth, Texas area.  Since hopping a plane between New Orleans (the airport is 1 mile from my house as the Cessna flies) and D-FW is so simple and efficient, that seemed the most practical alternative. But when I went online to arrange a ticket, I was too late or something. The direct flights were full and closed and expensive, and the others had me flying around the world and getting home in the wee hours of Monday morning.  So, I opted out of that and thought of a plan (see below).

I love to drive and drive I will this week.  And, in doing so, I will try to make the most of it.

Here are reasons I love to drive, if possible and practical, and why I will do so this weekend.

1) I can take everything I might need.

In the rear of my Honda CR-V you will find all kinds of drawing paper, the large metal easel for my presentations, a half-dozen books I want to read at some point, and such. I can bring along more hangup clothes than I’ll need and not have to stuff them into a suitcase. And no one minds if I bring my scissors or a water bottle.

2) I love the hours of silence.

The very best thing that goes on inside my car is prayer, sermon preparation, and simply talking out loud to myself.  On the passenger’s seat sits a large sketchbook open to a blank page where I can jot down ideas. (I’ve learned to do this without moving my eyes from the road. The writing will be terrible, but the point will be captured.)

3) I have Sirius-XM radio.

From time to time on a long drive, I’ll find an old classic radio program from the 1940s and enjoy the diversion. Yesterday, driving back from Lake Charles, Louisiana (a little over 3 hours), the “Sherlock Holmes” features were delightful.

This incredible radio system has channels for music of the 1940s (my era), the 50s, and so forth. There’s a channel devoted to Elvis’ music, as well as Sinatra’s.  ESPN has a couple of channels, and there must be 25 channels to broadcast ball games from all over. And the cost is just a few dollars a month.

4) I’ll be stopping to visit friends.

This week, after deciding to drive to Texas, I came up with a plan. I’m spending Thursday night with longtime friends in a small town below Shreveport and preaching for a friend in East Texas on the return drive.

How did this happen? I phoned them. “Hey, I’m driving to Fort Worth for a weekend of ministry and was wondering if I could borrow your guest bedroom for Thursday night?” Not only was it all right, they said, “We want you to meet our pastor. He is so fine.” Also, their adult son lives in the area, and will come over with his family. I promise to have my sketchbook handy and will probably end up drawing everyone in the house that evening.

These are precious friends who own a store in their town and have to stay nearby to operate it, so they don’t get away much. To see them, we have to travel to their town. Everything about this will be a delight, and already (Monday morning), I find myself anticipating it.

5) I’ll preach for a friend Sunday night.

I’ll finish up in Fort Worth following the Sunday morning worship. So, heading home to New Orleans, the route will take me close to a town where another friend pastors. So, I texted him–he and I are often in touch–to ask, “Do you need a preacher next Sunday night?” He’s worked it out, and is inviting his people to come early for me to sketch them before and after the evening service.  The pastor and his family and I will go out for dinner following the service. I’ve made a hotel reservation, and will leave early Monday for the drive home.

Isn’t it more tiring driving than flying?

Both are tiring, so choose your poison.

There is nothing relaxing about taking a plane, friend. Get to the airport a couple of hours ahead of schedule, go through the hassle of the long security lines, and endure crowded gateways. You have packed and repacked your bag to make sure you have everything you need and nothing you shouldn’t be taking, and still you worry.

The plane is full (they all are these days!) and the leg room is almost non-existent. The baby behind you is crying and the guy in front of you drops his seat back into your lap. The airline sends you to Cincinnati, then you change planes to fly to your actual destination–you did this to save the host church a few dollars–and are in the air for hours.

And you arrive exhausted. The host pastor picks you up at the airport and you still have an hour or two to drive.  You check into the hotel and the pastor informs you he’ll be back to pick you up in an hour for dinner with the staff or the first service of your revival.

Okay. There is no perfect way to get from here to there.

True enough. Driving is tiring too. But some of us love to drive, and I’m one of them. My CR-V is exactly three months old and has logged 9,000 miles. The 2009 Camry it replaces (which sits in the back driveway) has over 115,000 miles.

And, to be honest, I have noticed that after really long drives (I’ve driven home from St. Louis and from Charlotte in one day) I am fairly wiped out for a couple of days.  But, it’s a small price for a great experience in the Lord’s ministry.

The day will come, I know, when I can no longer spend the day behind the wheel getting to meetings.

Wonder what chaffeur-driven limos cost?

(P.S. One more advantage of driving as opposed to flying has just become evident.  The day before I was to leave for the above engagement in Fort Worth, they called to cancel. The pastor’s mother, I learned, is at the point of death and we will try to reschedule the meeting.

Try getting an airline to understand that your business trip has just been canceled and you need a refund for your ticket. It can be done, but it’s a royal headache. In this case, I contacted my friends (in Louisiana and in Texas) where I was planning to pause coming and going and informed them of the change. Now, if I can just figure out how to get Travelocity to cancel my hotel reservation for Sunday night and credit my account! Oh well, there are no perfect situations.



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