The sun had been up over the horizon for at least an hour. Perhaps the daylight warmth through the windows stirred me out of my slumber. Or perhaps it was the stillness of the car on the side of the empty highway, interrupted only by the rattle from an occasional passing motorist.
We had been driving all night. My parents journeyed, three kids in tow, across the country in that baby blue VW station wagon, now a classic. A missed turn-off had forced my dad to scuttle the car to the side as he set out in search for gas.
We were moving four states over. My young life had been uprooted once again. But I was okay with it as I looked out that morning across the brown landscape dotted with tumble weed and sage. The widening daylight cast inviting pinkish hues across the desert bluffs.
That morning, I fell in love with the open road. I was just a child, but adventure and solitude beckoned my heart ever beyond the reaches of the horizon. The scene galvanized my soul. Soon, the gravel crunched with footsteps as my father returned holding the familiar red can, just enough fuel to get us to the next stop.
And we journeyed on, almost empty but full enough to keep going on an endless highway.
How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion! (Psalm 84:5)
A recent trip across these familiar roads renewed an internal classic debate: Is it the journey or the destination I seek? And will either satisfy the deepest longing of the heart? I am searching for something great. Will I come up short?
I’ve been on many traveling adventures over the years. I’ve relished every moment. But the joy of the journey and the purpose for them all came to an end. These temporal joys still left me full enough to keep going but empty for the long haul.
Oh, the wistful heart of a sojourner: insatiably curious, a living paradox — both full and empty. But it’s the emptiness that compels us forward. (Cue U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”)
This longing teaches me something important: We can never truly be satisfied until we discover anew the object of our deepest yearning.
In the Bible, the psalmist calls the worshiper to pilgrimage, a journey that leads to a holy habitation. But though the temple was a physical destination, the journey for the worshiper in truth begins and ends in the heart.
In this here there is enormous blessing because the “highway to Zion” does not just lead to a place. It leads to a Person — the only One who satisfies the restless yearnings of the empty-hearted traveler.
And it is in this seeking, it is on this journey where we discover what our soul really desires most: relationship — eternal, living relationship with our Creator.
In stepping out, we discover that He is in fact the very one calling us forward. Because he is present with us on the journey as much as he is waiting for us at our destination.
And when we embrace this truth, when we can acknowledge at last what we really long for… all our endless empty wanderings come to a halt.
Because the road ends at a place of worship, the place of worship. Where we will one day lift our eyes up and see the One who’ve we always wanted to know.
And we’ll be known by Him. And our hearts will finally be full.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.