Last Wednesday was kind of a sad day for me. I said “good bye” to my 2005 Buick Rendezvous and watched it be driven away from our home. It had 202,000 miles on it and so it was time for a change. Because the vehicle did not have much value as a trade-in, I gave it to our UM Children’s Home in Lebanon, which has a new program to receive donated vehicles to sell them and use the proceeds to help with their ministry. So it was a good choice – a kind of “no brainer” decision – to change vehicles and to give away my old car for a good cause.
It caused me to reflect upon how blessed I have been in my travels as a bishop. When elected a bishop in 1996, I had to purchase a car because our UMC does not provide cars for bishops (we get our business mileage reimbursed). That first Pontiac lasted me for 160,000 miles, and I traded it for another Pontiac which I also drove for just over 160,000 miles, and now my Buick went for over 200,000 miles. So that is a total of over a half a million miles (not counting the times I drove Marsha’s van or flew many miles on longer trips) in driving these 15 years of my ministry as a bishop. Here is the amazing thing: other than twice when other people hit my car in a parking lot or on I-465 when I was literally stopped in traffic, I have had safe travels for those half million miles. Even those two “fender benders” were so minor that the second time my own car was not even damaged.
Last year in the quiet week after Christmas, I re-read the Journal of Francis Asbury, the first Methodist bishop in America. His journal records his very difficult travels on horseback, and so of course I am aware that my travels are by contrast very comfortable. However, as I read his journal it reminded me how tiring it is to be on the road so much of the time – even in a motorized vehicle.
So I am not bragging, and I am not pushing my good fortune, I am just thanking God for my safe travels. And my reflections on those safe travels remind me how many of our pastors, and especially our District Superintendents and conference staff, are driving many, many miles – and so I pray for safe travel for all of us as we fulfill our ministries on the road.
Please join me in praying for safe travels for all who are the road during this season of Advent and Christmas – especially those who travel as a part of their ministry for Christ.
P.S. If you have an iPhone or Droid smart phone, there is a new UMC app which gives you daily devotions, news, church locator service, etc. It is free and a nice app to have with you while you travel.