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Long Drives and Life Lessons: An Unexpected Spiritual Journey

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A Road Trip Like No Other

Oregon has been great for my family, and we’ve come to love our little town, Mill City. I think everyone who lives here would agree that our small and tight-knit community, nestled along the North Santiam River and cradled by the lush forest greenery and majestic views of the Cascade mountains, is a significant part of the charm that makes us call it home. It’s a far cry from the dry, brown, bustling suburb of my youth in Santa Clarita Valley.

But every now and then, the need to break away from the ordinary, to venture beyond our familiar landscapes and routines, calls us to leave. Last month we took a road trip from our little Mill City to the busy Santa Clarita, California, which isn’t exactly a hop, skip, and a jump away. Picture this: you and your spouse are cooped up in a truck, hauling a trailer, with three boys of varying ages squeezed into tight corridors for three days. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? What we did not know was that this journey was set to be about much more than just the destination.

The road trip had its fair share of protests. Now, let me paint a picture of Jaxsen for you, he preferred the solitary comfort of his books and games to the notion of three days in a confined space next to his very active little pestering brother. His eyes often took on a faraway look, and you’d think he’s visiting another planet, as he lost himself in his book or digital landscapes that he favored. But on this trip, there was a shift. As the miles stretched out in front of us, I decided to play an audiobook to keep me alert on the road. The book was “Pray Big: Learn to Pray Like an Apostle” by Alistair Begg. It’s a great read—or listen, if you will—that reminded me that it was a touchstone to a part of life we all needed but often overlooked.

The author’s words filled the cab of our truck, and I saw his eyes lose their lost in another world look. His usual half-slouched posture straightened up, and he peeled his eyes away from his screen. There he was, my middle boy, suddenly anchored in the reality of our conversation, hanging onto every word the author had to say.

“Hey, Dad, what’s this book you’re playing?” he asked as he stepped into a new world of understanding.

“Oh, it’s called ‘Pray Big’ by Alistair Begg,” I answered, hiding my surprise.

“Huh, it’s pretty good.”

The Power of Prayer and Conversation

I saw an opportunity right there and grabbed it. We spent the rest of that drive talking about faith, prayer, and everything in between. We discussed how the same strength and resilience we rely on during a long drive or a particularly challenging day often springs from quiet moments of prayer. We found ourselves digging deeper into the wisdom in the book, just like how there’s more to a tree than its bark.

Our trip south flew by, filled with deep talks about faith. And that spark I saw in Jaxsen didn’t fade away; it only grew brighter. Despite the hustle and bustle of the wedding activities and family visits, Jaxsen’s interest in prayer didn’t waver. His questions kept coming, indicating that he was wrestling with the new concepts and teachings. His commitment to understanding prayer and its role in everyday life was a testament to his relational growth with God. This endeavor was all new to him, but he faced it head-on.

We shared ideas on how these teachings could be used in our everyday challenges—negotiating peace with difficult individuals, aka siblings, finding the stamina to push through an exhaustive day, or even handling the frustration when things don’t go your way… You know those days, like when the Ducks lose to the Beavers. As we navigated the road back, the discussion of faith continued. The truck was no longer just a vehicle; it had become a moving think-tank, a place of reflection and personal and spiritual growth.

Returning home to Oregon, the landscape had the same familiar look, but something had fundamentally changed. Jaxsen had transformed. He had seized the sword, the wisdom from ‘Pray Big,’ and started wielding it in his life. The teachings from the book weren’t just theories anymore; they had become a part of him.

A Transformation Back Home

Back home in Mill City, Jaxsen emerged a new person. The boy who once preferred the world of games and books was now engaging deeply in his relationship with his God. This engagement was made clear to me one evening when Jaxsen came up to me, just as I was winding down from the day, and asked, ‘Dad, can I read your book on prayer?’ Even now, he wants a digital version on his Kindle, and he’s become a regular at his prayer group, the teachings from the book taking root in his life. Seeing him like that, my middle son, taking this stride in his relationship with God, stirred a warmth in my heart that words can barely do justice. The seeds planted during our journey were now blossoming, reflecting a profound change in his soul.

Since then, our drives will forever be transformed. They’re not going to just be about getting from A to B anymore; they’re going to be about the wisdom we can gain along the way. And Jaxsen? As a father, witnessing his journey in growing his relationship with God is more than just a matter of pride—it’s a reminder of God’s love and His desire to be close to us.

I guess what I want to say is never underestimate where you might find a life-changing lesson. For us, it was an audiobook played during a long drive. A drive that brought me and my son closer than ever and deepened our faith.

Since then, our drives will forever be transformed. They’re not going to just be about getting from A to B anymore; they’re going to be about the wisdom we can gain along the way. And Jaxsen? As a father, witnessing his journey in growing his relationship with God is more than just a matter of pride—it’s a reminder of God’s love and His desire to be close to us.

The Call to Adventure

So, here’s what I suggest. Maybe give an audiobook a chance on your next long drive or commute. You never know what wisdom you might find or how it could spark a change in your life.

Jaxsen, he’s taken this experience to heart. His journey with faith has taken an exciting new path, and I find myself moved by his determination. Every Tuesday afternoon, without fail, he’s at the church, engaged and thoughtful, actively participating in our afternoon prayer group. It’s like the teachings from ‘Pray Big’ have planted seeds in his soul, and now I’m watching them grow, influencing his thoughts, actions, and conversations. The growth I’ve seen in him, it’s more than just a father’s pride—it’s witnessing a young man’s spiritual awakening.

Here’s to more drives, audiobooks, heart-to-heart talks, and “Pray Big,” the book that kick-started it all for us.” It taught us that the most profound lessons can sometimes pop up when you least expect them. And for that, I’ll always be thankful.

So, are you ready to hop aboard this journey? Why not start your adventure with the very book that sparked ours? Pick up “Pray Big: Learn to Pray Like an Apostle” by Alistair Begg and the audio version for your next drive or during your downtime. Dive in, start exploring, and see where this road takes you. Remember, the destination is a part of the journey, but the real gold lies in the wisdom we collect along the way.

And hey, we’re a community here. If you come across any profound lessons or experience a spiritual awakening, don’t hesitate to share them. We’d love to hear your stories during our Sunday services or any church prayer group. Let’s learn, grow, and strengthen our faith together. Here’s to the start of an enriching journey!


Paul Luna

Paul Luna is a pastor, husband & father of four in Oregon. He's passionate about faith, family, & community, he enjoys painting, hiking, & tech.

All stories by: Paul Luna