Grow Deep - The Family Trip Edition, Week 3

Week 3:  September 2-8

The Unexpected

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” –2 Corinthians 4:10

How did we take a family road trip before the days of cell phones, GPS, Priceline, Yelp, and the gazillion websites that preview our destinations? Before computers ,the Bible of road trips in the 70s was “The Mobile Travel Guide,” and I spent hours in the town library pouring through its pages, researching and pitching family trip ideas to my parents and siblings.

All my planning didn’t bypass unexpected events on the trip, however. I remember waiting a frightful eternity for my father to return from a police car at a Tallahassee speed trap. Our trip to the San Diego Zoo ended with my sister in the hospital. Money was an issue, and we slept in a rest stop outside of New Orleans. And two couples rescued my honeymoon when our car sank deep into mud on New Hampshire’s Kancamagus highway. Many memories from family trips rise up to the surface out of those unplanned and difficult experiences. In fact, those setbacks have been part of what has shaped me. In the setbacks is the place where I have seen Jesus step into our journey most clearly.

In this “Family Trip” series, we’ve dreamed with our heavenly Father about the spiritual journey of our households. We’ve spent time in meditation, prayer, worship, and community to search for God’s plan for our families. Now the time has come to hit the road! Actually, you’re on the road. From the day of your baptism, from the day you met Jesus, you’ve been on your way. You’ve seen hazards and hassles. Nonetheless, that’s where you meet Jesus.

St. Paul begins this week on a difficult road trip. His advice in troubled waters is “pack Jesus!” Next we hit the road with six days in the travel chapters of Luke (9-19). These unique chapters in Luke’s Gospel are Jesus’ family road trip to the cross. Take your family on the road with Jesus this week and expect Him to be there in the surprises of your daily journey.

Sunday, September 2
Read: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians dealt with troubles in their church family. His second letter, in part, addresses unforeseen, external foes that will shake up the family journey. In this reading, he gives us a simple road map: “Pack Jesus” wherever you go! No matter what disappointment or distress you may face, Jesus interrupts trials with grace.

Reflect: What does it mean to carry around the death of Jesus? Identity one or more of the barriers and feelings described here that zap your power. What words of promise in this passage give you strength for the road ahead?

For the Family: If you have a glass vase or a flower pot made of clay, go and get it. Look at it. Would it be easy to break? Re-read v. 7.How do we get hurt or broken? What promises do we have from Jesus to help us?

Monday, September 3
Read: Luke 9:51-62
The travel chapters of the Gospel of Luke (9-19) begin with Jesus’ journey through Samaria, but neither He nor His disciples are welcome there. This makes the disciples angry, but Jesus won’t let it ruin the road trip. He allows this to be a teaching moment to challenge His disciples on their own resistance. Jesus invites us to lay down our excuses and follow Him. Then we will see and travel the Kingdom of God.

Reflect: Many family trips have times of conflict and resistance. We all have our ways of refusing to participate. In your family spiritual journey, what are the barriers, fears, excuses, that keep you from fully following Jesus? How do His words extend grace and a fresh invitation to you today?

For the Family: Can you think of a time when you did not want to go with your parents somewhere but you had to go anyway? How did it turn out? What does it mean for your family to follow Jesus? What can you do together as a family that might bring you even closer to Him?

Tuesday, September 4
Read: Luke 10:38-42
This familiar story of Mary and Martha shows us something about our travels with Jesus. We get worried and concerned about many things and end up taking our eyes off Jesus. Read this short story a few times and try to put it into your own context, especially as you consider all the plans on your to-do list.

Reflect: What is a focal point of worry for you right now? How does it distract you from God’s plans for your life? Identify “the few things really needed” for your family. How can you support one another in this focus?

For the Family: Why was Martha upset? How did Jesus calm her down? What has made you upset recently? How can Jesus help you and your family when you are upset?

Wednesday, September 5

Read: Luke 12:22-34
When you travel outside of your normal environment, it’s easy to become anxious and worried. When you follow Jesus, you’re sure to go to places unknown. Worry is natural, but Jesus invites you to see how precious you are to Him. When you are confronted with fears and worries, “pack Jesus.” “Seek His Kingdom,” and He will provide all you need.

Reflect: How has worry stolen time and joy from your life? How has it ever helped you? What is Jesus’ map through the valleys of worry? What words or phrases can you take from this passage to act as a GPS to guide you through times of worry that pop up?

For the Family: What does it mean to worry? What does Jesus say about birds and flowers? Do they ever get worried? How does God provide for them? What about your family? How has God provided for you and your family? What can you do if you get afraid or worried?

Thursday, September 6
Read: Luke 13:22-30
One way to look at Jesus’ illustration of the “Narrow Door” is to consider the focus and direction of your life and family. We encounter more distractions every day than we do clarity of God’s purpose. Many side-trips and diversions seem harmless. Some are risky, but we follow the crowd any way. The road through the “Narrow Door,” however, is the journey that daily resets the GPS and follows Jesus. This is the only road that leads to life and prosperity.

Reflect: What “doors” are taking my life and family focus away from Jesus? What “Narrow Door” is Jesus showing me today for following Him? Allow your meditations today to lead you to the “reset, redirection, and refocus” we all need to follow Jesus.

For the Family: Have you ever seen the bracelets that have “WWJD” on them? Those letters stand for “What Would Jesus Do.” Jesus refers to the “Narrow Door” in these verses. What do you think that means? How can we help each other make the kind of choices that Jesus would make and wants us to make? Those are the choices that will take us through the “Narrow Door.”

Friday, September 7

Read: Luke 15:1-7
Often a family road trip includes a time when you may be lost or confused about your location. Sometimes a simple correction will get you back on track, but other times you need a rescue. Jesus has rescued you and brought you into His fold. You are with many travelers who are following Jesus! Every day some of them go off the road. Some days, it’s you! The good news is that Jesus gives 24/7 roadside rescue.

Reflect: Who’s missing from your journey of following Jesus? Pray for that person by name. Make a habit of looking for and loving lost people. In your prayers, make yourself available to Jesus when He calls you to get involved.

For the Family: Have you ever lost a pet? Has a neighbor ever lost a pet? If so, what were the feelings you had before and after the pet was found? Jesus describes His love for us like looking for a lost sheep. How does that make you feel about Jesus? How can our family help Him rescue others?

Saturday, September 8

Read: Luke 19:1-10
Jesus is now very close to Jerusalem. This rest stop with Zacchaeus is a “let no one be left behind” moment. Jesus doesn’t choose to stay with friends at the Holiday Inn. He chooses to make a friend, a person others had dismissed as corrupt and dangerous. Jesus risks His comfort, safety and reputation to stay at the home of Zacchaeus. When Jesus comes to your house, life changes!

Reflect: Look up! Look around you for the people Jesus is showing you. Who have you given up on as corrupt? Or passed over as hopeless? Or looked away from because looking into their eyes would be uncomfortable? How can your family be more intentional about looking for and inviting overlooked people?

For the Family: What kind of a person was Zacchaeus? Can you remember something about how he looked? Why didn’t people like him? Have you ever known someone who was not liked because of how they looked or some of the things they did. How did Jesus treat Zacchaeus? How should we treat people who aren’t liked?