You can’t go back.
It’s not always easy, this road.
In fact, a lot of the time it’s hard. But the deep depths pale in light of the high highs.
And my friend was right. You can’t go back.
The sun poured down through the thousands of dead brown leaves clinking together in the trees, our own surround-sound percussion section. The breeze rustled the pages of my journal, and my friend Caitlin dozed with her head on her arm on the other side of the picnic table.
It was summer. It was winter. It was January in Alabama.
It. Was. Great.
There isn’t a lot that makes sense with the weather here in winter. For a few days in a row that week in late January, the sun kept baking Birmingham, and the temperature topped 70 degrees. People were fanning themselves in our coffee shop.
The cup was half full of winter, half full of summer. And the summer half was winning.
I wasn’t sad about that.
Not everywhere in the world you can sit outside and read in the dead of winter.
The breeze rattled the trees again, and then it happened. I heard it. It was faint. But it was obvious.
The ice cream truck.
Before the first note had even died out, Caitlin’s head shot up from her arm, her face lit up like Christmas morning.
Only a few days before, I’d told her one of those things you hate to admit out loud.
I’ve never actually had ice cream from the ice cream man.
I know, I know. It’s unAmerican and all. But the small town where I grew up didn’t have one, so I didn’t get the whole experience of sprinting out the front door at the first note, afraid you might not catch him.
I didn’t really feel like I’d missed out on anything.
And Caitlin thought that was just wrong.
So that day, after her face lit up like Christmas, we chased the ice cream man. The first time we ran across the bridge and through the park, leaving books behind.
We didn’t make it. We trudged back to our picnic table. But about 15 minutes later, we heard it again, and we did it all over again.
And this time we caught him.
And Batman with bubble gum eyes changed my life.
And after that, I just can’t tune that truck out like I used to.
The other day, Caitlin and I were talking about how sometimes the depths of following after Christ can be deep, if you really want to know Him for all He’s worth.
If you want to grab hold of Him, it’s not something you just kind of accidentally slide into while you’re living your life. You have to really want it.
The battle can be rough. The hard things can be really hard.
And sometimes life might just seem simpler if you stayed at the picnic table and didn’t know what you were missing but also didn’t have to make that full-out sprint.
But you’d also never know the soul-shaking joy and all-consuming peace that comes from running after Him with lungs burning, heart pumping … and catching Him.
Once you taste it, it’s like the picnic table life is never an option you’ll be okay with again.
Caitlin said it’s like once you know what Jesus is really like, trying to go back to living that life without Him isn’t going to work.
“It might’ve worked then when I didn’t know the alternative, but now that I do, it throws everything off when I try to revert back,” she said. “Much like when I was introduced to the ice cream man … before I knew who he was, my life was fine and happy, but after I knew who he was, I couldn’t just go back to not knowing and be as happy as I was before – I craved ice cream.”
I knew what she meant.
It’s not always easy, this road. In fact, a lot of the time it’s hard.
But the deep depths pale in light of the high highs.
And she’s right.
You can’t go back.
(@gracefortheroadblog on Instagram.)
It’s almost here, y’all. Two weeks away!
“Have you been waiting for life to turn out the way you expected?
… You’re not alone.”
“I Don’t Wait Anymore” the book, available here.