This pandemic experience has effectively shipwrecked our plans for a family cruise this summer.
While the vacation was greatly anticipated, we recognized it was not going to happen. This reality has caused me to reflect upon our past expeditions.
My family is thoroughly convinced that the movie “Johnsons Family Vacation” is loosely based on us. We see all of the characters within us. On occasion, it has been remarked that I actually favor my fraternity brother Cedric the Entertainer. Yes, I am the “I-10-by-10” Road & Task Master!
Vanessa Williams, who plays the beautiful and intelligent wife, even shares my wife’s name Dorothy. Coincidence? I don’t think so!
Traveling with four children is no joke and far from cheap. Although we never ventured too far, it was always long enough to trigger the probing question from the back seat five minutes into the journey: “Are we there yet?” You can only play the “Who Can Keep Quiet the Longest?” game so many times.
The trips were also just long enough for us to realize we should have simply brought the entire house along. No time to be exhausted from the drive because a quick recovery is required: The well-rested backseat passengers are amped up and ready for some fun.
Slow your roll! We have to check-in, unload the car, complete another headcount and review “the rules of conduct.”
Now the real work begins. Wait a minute! Did I say “work?” This is supposed to be a vacation! It has been said, when you have children, vacations are just “parenting somewhere else.”
Then there was the constant arguing between siblings. By nightfall, I asked my wife as I pointed to our precious gifts, “Why did we bring them along?” Of course, she reminded me that it was my idea.
It remains my purpose to create tomorrow’s memories today. There is so much truth packed in Gretchen Rubin’s expression that “days are long and years are short.” It is important that we share time together as a family. However, at that moment it had little to do with me chillaxing and having fun. I was still on parental duty.
But then I had another “ah ha” moment! This describes the paternal relationship between God and I. God, the Father, does not need me. He could accomplish His will without my assistance. God is sovereign over the universe, existing supremely above all else. After all, He is God all by Himself!
God, in all His power and glory, is best understood as a loving, intimate Father. So it would actually be much less complicated for Him without me along. Nevertheless, He invites and welcomes me to join Him on the journey called life. I thank Him for traveling mercies and grace!
Perhaps I should have had a little more grace with the family. Admittedly, I felt slightly remorseful about lamenting about the kids tagging along — even after they screamed “I’m bored” while costing me thousands of dollars!
Ironically I find myself asking God, “Are we there yet?” only to have Him, in a loving way, suggest that I enjoy the moment and just keep the faith!
— Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II is the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department and coordinator of the Mahoning Valley African American Male Wellness Walk. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of 5 children and 6 grandchildren.