Eldon Peterson column mug

Eldon Peterson

What comes to your mind when I mention a road trip? Is it positive or negative? I hope that it is positive, however, the reality is that many road trips either start or finish with bumps in the road.

I remember my first long road trip. I was moving from Oregon to Aspen, Colorado, for a summer job. My ’61 Olds was having problems with the transmission and clutch. The night before I was to leave I had the car up on jack stands replacing the clutch and trying to fix the transmission. When I hit the road the next morning I had no idea if my repairs would hold. Some road trips start with trepidation!

I faced a similar situation when moving my son to Oregon a couple weeks ago. The night before we left we found that his 35-year-old Datsun truck was leaking antifreeze. Having already spent many hours working on his truck, we knew that finding replacement parts was not going to be easy —especially on Memorial Day. We found universal flexible upper and lower hoses and quickly put them on and hit the road. The truck made it fine.

But experience tells us that all rough starts do not always work out well. We understand the importance of preparing for road trips. Only a fool would start a road trip without first giving their vehicle a once over. If you learned that my brakes were going out, or that my tires were bald or that my car was leaking fluids and knew that I was still planning on leaving, would you say, “Go, be safe!” No! You would tell me that I had better take care of the mechanical issues so that I could arrive safely. This simple realization causes me to ask, “Why do many live their lives without making similar preparations for the journey of life?”

Do you remember the old camp song, “You can’t get to heaven in an old Ford truck, ‘cause an old Ford truck won’t get that far?” What are you trusting in to get you heaven? If not an old Ford truck, then maybe it’s something more reliable like good intentions and hard work. Or then again, maybe not.

A few years ago, I told the graduates at a commencement address that we are wise to make our plans, but to hold them loosely. My text was from James, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

If we are wise, we will ask if what we are trusting in on this road trip called life is secure. Am I placing my faith in wishful thinking or absolute truth? What do I mean? Nearly all have heaven as their ultimate destination on the road of life. However, when asked about their assurance of reaching this destination their answers are mixed.

Some will sheepishly say that they hope that they are good enough to make it to heaven. Others speak with greater confidence. They believe they’ll reach their destination of heaven because they are a good person; they’ve done their best. What more could be required?

I understand these thoughts, maybe you do as well. However, when we look to the scriptures we find their reasoning is weak. For one thing, scripture declares “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) It is because none are righteous that the gospel offers us assurance of righteousness not from our striving but from Christ, “For God the Father made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

This righteousness offered through Christ gives us eternal life in heaven, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) If you desire eternal life, to be with God in heaven, then check what you are trusting in to get you there. Not only will an old Ford truck not get us there, neither will our hard work. Scripture declares that it is through Christ alone that we can receive eternal life.

Eldon Peterson is pastor of the Cache Valley Bible Fellowship. His column appears on the Faith page. He can be reached at by.faith@outlook.com.

Eldon Peterson is pastor of the Cache Valley Bible Fellowship. His column appears on the Faith page. He can be reached at by.faith@outlook.com.