For those who are going out of town this holiday season to visit family or friends, you might have a long drive ahead of you. Maybe you’re driving alone, with little ones, or like me, in a packed minivan with four teenagers and your husband. We have a nine-hour drive to visit my husband’s grandma, mostly on interstates.
Not everyone is a fan of road trips, but I personally love them — all that time on the open road to decompress and explore new ways of thinking. The time can be extraordinarily helpful for the soul regardless of whether you consider it “fun.”
Part of it is because these trips invite reflection and contemplation, something the Bible clearly tells us is good. As Proverbs 27:19 says, “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” Joshua was told to meditate on God and God’s word “day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Contemplation, reflection, and meditation all lead to wisdom when done with the Lord at the helm. And road trips can provide an excellent opportunity for this.
Whether you love road trips or despise them, here are eight ways you can draw closer to God on your holiday expedition.
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1. Read the Bible
(And yes, even if you’re already a daily Bible reader, or if you are the driver, this still applies to you!) If you’re a passenger, you could read the Bible aloud for everyone else in the car, or you can read it quietly to yourself. If you are the driver or driving alone, you can find someone on YouTube reading the Bible aloud.
Consider picking a book you’ve never read before and read it in an entirely different translation. For example, if you are accustomed to reading the Bible in the King James Version, try The Message or the New Living Translation, something very different from what you are used to. After, contemplate what you read, whether with others in the car or in your own mind.
The apostle Paul urged Timothy to devote himself to reading Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13). Psalm 119:105 says God’s word “is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” And it’s something we can do on the road with a little creativity and ingenuity.
2. Listen to Christian Music
Whether it is contemporary Christian music you find on a radio station or classic country or gospel tunes, or maybe even an album from an artist you’ve never heard of – try it out. Even if it’s not your favorite style of music, let the words in the message wash over you and fill your heart.
My husband likes what he calls “skater punk” Christian music from the 1990s, which can be very different from what I typically listen to (Hillsong United or For King And Country). Johnny Cash has some great Christian music, too, that we’ve gotten into lately. Just open up to something new and different and see what it does to your spirit and how you respond. The best part about a road trip can be the opportunity to step out of your regular daily comfort zone.
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3. Get Artistic
If you’re a passenger, take along a sketchbook or one of those faith-based adult coloring books (or even a kid’s coloring book if the tiny lines in the adult ones drive you bonkers). If you’re sketching, don’t worry about your artistic ability. I’ve always said I paint with words as a writer because I have no talent for the visual arts. Still, it’s funny how when you are doing something with your heart for the Lord, somehow He gifts you with the ability to make it far better than you can possibly do on your own.
I have a friend who found herself sketching mandalas because they remind her of the Holy Spirit. Another friend draws really intricate crosses. My daughter loves to try her hand at sunsets and animals, which is where she tends to experience God the most deeply.
If you’re the driver and you have passengers in your car, you can offer up some of your own ideas of things they can draw for you, even choosing the colors they use. When you stop for a bathroom break, you can check out what they’ve produced and see if it’s anywhere close to what you had in mind. Make it fun, like a game.
If you’re driving alone, obviously you can’t pull out a sketchpad, but even with two hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, you can absorb the beauty of God‘s creation around you. Notice the colors and the lines in the landscape and the sky. Notice the swirl of the clouds or the patter of raindrops on your windshield. When you open your heart to something artistic and seek God in that, a shift or awakening can occur within you.
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I love audiobooks. I’m all about fiction, whereas my husband likes a mix of non-fiction and fiction fantasy. Look for a Christian novel or a nonfiction book about a topic in your faith life you’ve been wanting to dive into. That’s something you can do to enrich your mind, heart, and soul all at once while driving.
You don’t have to listen to a specifically Christian book, because quite frankly, God is everywhere. Even if it is a non-Christian book, no matter the genre, be intentional about looking for God moments in the text. Where do you see Jesus at work behind the scenes? Where are people responding to the Holy Spirit’s nudging? Even if it’s a business nonfiction book, think about how the lessons can apply to you as you strive to do God’s work in your career, whatever that may be.
5. Play the ‘Would You Rather’ Game
In our family, we really like games that get people talking. With four teenagers, all of them Generation Z, they’ve grown up with electronic devices, and if we’d let them, they’d stay on those devices for the entire car trip.
So we play games to draw out conversation. For example, we ask: Would you rather cuddle a sloth or go horseback riding on a tropical island? Would you rather hike a mountain or zipline through the trees?
It can start off really playful, but if you’re anything like us, you’ll dive into deeper and deeper topics by the end. You really learn a lot about yourself and each other when you really think about these questions.
This works best with more than one person in the car, of course, but you can probably play a solo version. Why not?
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6. Share Time
Another activity is to each take turns talking about something fascinating or perplexing going on in our lives right now. This might be an issue with a friend or a subject someone is studying in school or a conflict we’re having at work. Whatever it is, sharing it with the people around you in the car is a great way to be a good listener and get to know people.
As Proverbs 2:2 reminds us, we are to make “your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding.”
7. Bask in Silence
This is the simplest: Turn off the radio, silence the phones, and stop talking awhile. Simply be in the presence of the Lord, and open your heart to what He is saying.
And last but not least, whether alone or with others, pray — for your family and friends, your community, the cars around you, the world as a whole. Pray about anything that comes to mind.
These eight things can help you draw closer to the Lord on your holiday road trip. Try them and see which ones work for you. God bless you!
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Vera Livchak
Originally published Monday, 21 November 2022.