Join Me on a Ride to Malvern

It was a top-secret mission. Even though I didn’t have a clue what it was all about, I jumped at any chance to go somewhere with just my dad and me. Since my little brother was still in his crib, I must have been only five. Mom was starting dinner while having a whispered discussion with my dad. Then, he threw out an invitation to me:

“I’ve got to make a little trip to Malvern, Gertrude, want to come with me?”

When he used that silly name, I knew it meant my dad was ready for fun! Before he finished his sentence, I ran to my bedroom to grab my coat. Malvern was about thirty minutes away, and I wasn’t sure what was so important that he needed to drive all the way there before supper, but I was thrilled to get my dad all to myself for such a long trip.

I heaved open the heavy door to his beloved ’54 Chevy, but he had to close it for me after I climbed up on the seat. I could barely reach to grab the handle if I stood on the floorboard, but I couldn’t quite get my head back inside before pulling the door closed, so my dad was there to make sure I was safe inside before he slammed it shut. Of course, that was back in the day before anyone had even imagined such a thing as a car seat. How many hours of riding pleasure that cantankerous invention would’ve stolen from a free-riding little girl!

My fingers were numb with cold, even after putting my small hands under my thighs for warmth, so I took the position I normally did when nothing else worked; I hunkered my small frame in the passenger’s floorboard and tried to get as close as possible to the heat blowing out of the old car’s engine. As I warmed, I leaned my head against the camel colored seats and breathed in deep. Even after all these years, the leather still smelled new to me.

The line of naked trees fell away as we sped past them. Their bare branches against the dusky grey sky stirred a pleasant longing, an awareness that this twilight moment was special, one to tuck away in my heart and visit again. The vivid impression went deep. And to this day, whenever it is a late evening in December, with heavy clouds hiding any hint of the setting sun, I’m immediately back in my dad’s Chevy on our trip to Malvern.

After swearing me to secrecy, he told me the reason for our mission. My older brother’s one Christmas request was an Army GI Joe soldier—a plastic doll, whose arms and legs moved, in full military dress with all the gear. My parents searched everywhere until they heard that the Malvern Otasco store still had one. And that meant an unexpected evening excursion!

My dad had no idea when he invited me on that ride that it would become a cherished memory to visit through the decades. Although he’s been gone since 2010, my trip to Malvern with him is never far away. Especially on these grey December evenings, I find myself returning there.

The reason I’m sharing this little story with you is twofold. I want to remind you to never despise the small things, the little moments and opportunities that fill your day. Never underestimate the power of time. As a parent, that ride in the car with your child, the book read in your lap, the walk taken together down the lane to the mailbox, all of these “small moments” have the potential of eternal significance for your child. The same is true for moments invested in any relationship: time with a friend, family member, or even the stranger at the grocery store. Each moment of the day is full of opportunity for meaningful interaction.

By inviting me along for a simple ride in the car, my dad was living out the principle of Ephesians 5:15–16; the principle of “redeeming the time” or making the best use of each moment of the day.

My dad was “redeeming the time” by accomplishing a needed task while also carrying along his daughter for an adventure that would deepen her heart and be an opportunity for father/daughter bonding.

But this is also a reminder for each of us to “redeem the time” by being intentional to notice, to observe, to see God at work in the moments of our day—and allow those observations to lead us to worship and wonder of Him. I’m encouraging you to live in the wonder of each day and receive what God has for you there.

We don’t live in a random universe, but there is purpose behind each moment God has planned for us. Take the time to look, or as Flannery O’Connor says, “. . . never be ashamed of staring.” Look, listen, and receive fully what God has for you today. And as you do, pass that wonder on to others. Glorify God by approaching each day anticipating the wonder it holds. And then share that wonder with others!

Photo by Quentin Rey on Unsplash

Dear Friends, your prayers are a tangible means of God’s grace in our lives. If you are new to the blog, and unaware of what we’re walking through and how we need your prayers, I hope you’ll read this post from the archives. Even though I’m unable to respond to your comments, I do read every one. For those who share prayer needs, I lift those to the Father and am so grateful to be entrusted with your prayer request. I love to hear from you, so please continue to leave your comments knowing that they matter!

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