It started out well. We camped for a week in the Grand Teton National Park in a platform tent, cooking most nights at the fire pit (If you can call heating up Dinty Moore Beef Stew cooking). The mountains were awesome. We explored the lakes and falls in the area, drove up to Yellowstone where we viewed elk, bison, eagles and coyotes. Took a horseback ride through the woods. It was peaceful, relaxing, and refreshing to be in such beautiful country. Our daughters were twelve and fifteen years old, and although they complained about the public showers and the inability to maintain 80s hairstyle standards, it was an unforgettable experience for all.
It was late summer when we left to return home to Wisconsin. Traveling up Bear Tooth Pass, we found snow on the summit, before driving on down into western Montana. Stayed overnight in Cody, Wyoming, then continued east on Interstate 90, stopping at Devils Tower, before proceeding to Mt. Rushmore. We never made it there. First, I had only a vague idea about how far it was. Second, we were running out of time because I had to go back to work in a couple of days. Third, I’d never heard about Sturgis, South Dakota. It was mid-afternoon when I pulled off the road and stopped at a large chain motel to get a room for the night. There seemed to be a lot of motorcycles in the parking lot, but then I figured that’s what it must be like in the wild west. At the front desk I was told, “No rooms available”. Decided to press on, clueless about some big annual gathering of motorcycle riders. Drove around some more, and as dusk fell, heard some rumblings from the back seat about hunger. I pulled off at the next exit; Sturgis, SD.
The streets were filled with tents and vendors and more Harleys than I’d ever seen in one place. We found an A&W drive in, went inside, and noticed that we were the only patrons not clad in black leather. I was probably wearing dorky shorts, accompanied by two wide-eyed teen girls and my petite wife. We gulped our hamburgers in haste, and left the way we came.
Now it was dark on the Interstate, and I looked for motel signs. Spying one, I pulled up, full of hope, and asked for a room. The guy at the desk mumbled something about, “Nothing for a hundred miles”. Desperate now, I asked if he could find us something, anything further east. Kindly, he made some calls, and booked us a room in Pierre, SD, two hundred thirty miles away.
It was a carload of crabby as we pulled in at the motel at about one thirty AM. The family was not happy with my lack of planning and foresight. Yet here we were, in an air-conditioned room with crisp cool sheets and clean towels. All because we had a reservation.
Life can be hard at times. Right now we as a nation are frustrated and fearful about the virus. We are dismayed and bewildered about the violence and destruction in our cities; appalled by the incidents that fuel this rage. Politicians throw mud, and point fingers, but they offer no solutions and precious little leadership. Like that long day out west, I wonder where and when this will end. I need to remember, that I have a reservation.
Jesus, as He was about to face death on the cross, knew that after His resurrection He would return home to the Father in heaven. His disciples needed some comfort, some hope in that dark hour. Here’s how Jesus encouraged them:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:1-3 (ESV)
In other words, Jesus followers have a reservation. I can make this journey, no matter how tough, tiring, or terrifying it may be, because I know at the end, there is a place for me with my name on it. Even better than cool sheets and clean towels, I will find there eternal rest from striving, freedom from sin and death, and the bright presence of God my Father, and Jesus my Savior. There’s plenty of room in that place. Is there a reservation in your name? I hope so. See you there!