Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 19

Acts 20 v 17 – 38

How do you keep the youngsters entertained on a long journey in a car? Many of us have been there; – the car is packed, we are all ready and we set off for the family holiday in the South of England, three hundred miles and a six hour journey but, by the time we get to Borrowash we hear, ‘are we nearly there yet?’, or ‘how long is it before we get there?’, or ‘I need the toilet’.

When our three girls were young Jean and I tried to cheat. The theory was that if we set off really early in the morning, we could wrap the girls up in sleeping bags on the back seat and they would sleep for at least the first hour, at least that was the theory, but it seldom worked. In reality one of them would wake up and wake her sister and then wake the other and before we got to the end of the road they were all bouncing about in the back.

When I was a young lad it was different. We generally went on holiday to Bridlington or Morecombe which were the closest seaside towns from to Bradford. We stayed in a static caravan which was usually ‘compact and bijou’ so five of us together was interesting to say the least, but it was not where we went that was different, it was how we got there.

I have mentioned before that my dad was a builder so we did not have a family car; we had a decommissioned army truck. After the war there was an abundance of army surplus trucks and dad bought a couple, so they were used for work and also as the family transport. Going on holiday was an interesting experience, dad would lay an old mattress on the floor in the back of the truck, and my sisters and I would sit on it along with the entire luggage. Communication between us and mum and dad was by way of banging on the roof of the cab, and mum would peer through the little window to see what we wanted. In addition the only protection from the elements for those in the back was a canvas cover that was stretched over a metal frame which flapped and banged as we drove along. Even worst was the fact that the canvas did not fully cover the rear of the truck so vehicles following had a full view of my sisters and I huddled up in blankets on the mattress. Despite all this we thought it was great.

Back to my family, at least we always had a comfortable car , so we resorted to playing various games such as I spy, 2 points for first person to see  to a red car, 3 points for a blue car etc., making up names or words from car number plates, and the first person to see an elephant, (this game could go for some time). By this time we would probably be at Leicester, only 250 miles to go.

Today technology has stepped in to save the day. My grandchildren can watch a DVD on their way to Cornwall, or play computer games on their mobile phones or listen to their own choice of music in their headphones, and if all else fails they can stop at McDonalds.

I often wonder about Paul on his missionary journeys. He must have travelled thousands of miles through Jerusalem, Macedonia, Crete, Cyprus, and Rhodes, Italy and on to Rome, not forgetting all the return visits, and these are the journeys by sea, he had many on foot. Just one journey on foot from Troas to Assos was over 20 miles. Acts 21 tells us that Paul did the same Mediterranean cruise that our modern day cruise ships do visiting Cos, Rhodes, Patara, and Cyprus, but I don’t think Paul had the same luxury or even basic comfort that we do today.

I marvel at his determination and courage as in those days travelling was not an easy task, and in the later stages Paul was not a young man and suffered physically from his beatings, being stoned and being incarcerated in prisons, but despite all these hardships he kept going. He knew that God was with him and that he had been chosen to be God’s voice in the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.

Paul must have been an amazing preacher and eloquent speaker being able to hold an audience and through his words change people who had worshipped pagan gods for generations to enable them to see the light of Jesus Christ and the promise of salvation through him.

I don’t think Paul or any of his companions required having any games or other entertainment on their missionary journeys over land or sea, they were totally focussed on the spreading of God’s word and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Some years ago I and my family went on a holiday to France. We drove 2500 miles in a little over two weeks from Derby to the South of France and back. How many games did we go through? I lost count.

Derek T.