Despite varying opinions, the drive through central Virginia on I-81, particularly the stretch between Roanoke and Strasburg, is nothing short of stunning. On a clear day travelers are treated to a vibrant landscape framed by dotted hilltops to the west, which spring up suddenly and very near the roadway, then flow gently down to join the rolling farmland to the east. It then quickly sweeps upward into the mountains of the Shenandoah National Park where the land seemingly disolves. The interstate itself serves as the only prominent intrusion upon the terrain, a road which would take us home no matter which direction we travel.
Like every family, ours was born from the union of two worlds. My wife Laura comes from Mechanicsburg, PA, while I was born and raised in Knoxville, TN, which is where we currently reside. Interstate 81 has thus become a 9-hour link between our homes. Despite the physical distance, the gap between our worlds, as God would have it, is much narrower than the geography would suggest. Our shared faith in Christ draws us closer than any shared region or culture ever could.
Though the drive to your in-laws’ house may only be 20 minutes, the gap between your worlds may be similar to ours. Or perhaps the gap is wider than you want to admit, wider than any road trip, short or long, could ever connect. You may look forward to the new year just to get back to your version of normal.
You may have missed it last week in the midst of family gatherings, but the celebration of Christmas was the recognition of the widest of all gaps, between heaven and heart, being finally bridged with the coming of Christ. His coming didn’t make everything instantly better (as evidenced by that awkward conversation with your cousin-in-law), but at the very least it shed light on the root of our problems: the gap between worlds that plagues every aspect of our lives. In the same manner, placing your faith in Jesus doesn’t bridge every relationship gap, but it does offer the hope of it, starting with the mending of our relationship to God. The creator of the universe seeks closeness with us, not distance, and he created his own path to make that a reality. That alone should set our road-weary hearts at rest.