The Longest Walk
If I were you, I’d listen to this first.
When I took calculus my senior year of high school, I had to get a TI-86 graphic calculator (I’m a gadget guy, so this was exciting for me). My mom and I went to Wal-Mart, made the purchase, and I immediately started trying to figure out how to program my own games.
A couple of weeks later – before the excitement of a new gadget had worn off, we went to visit my grandma. She lived in Mound City, KS, which is a town of fewer than a thousand. With not a McDonalds or Wal-Mart in sight (the nearest was about 30 miles away), I was struck by a profound thought:
I asked my mom what she would’ve done in High School if she had needed a TI-86.
She sort of rolled her eyes at me and said, “We’d either have ordered it from the general store or gone without.”
For a kid from the suburbs, connected to a big city, this was an eye-opening moment for me, my first real glimpse into small town life.
Back then, Mound City was the kind of town Springsteen sang about in “Thunder Road”. If you weren’t a farmer, there really wasn’t much else for you to do there. Today, the town hasn’t fared well. Pretty much everyone my mom’s age either left or has slid into poverty. The town’s biggest struggles are methamphetamines and prostitution – the kinds of problems poverty creates.
To make a life for herself, my mom had to leave – there wasn’t anything in her hometown for her.
So too with Mary. In the song, her town has nothing to offer her – high school is over, all her lovers are losers, the Chevrolets are burned out. It’s time for her to take the next step, to leave.
But the song ends in ambiguity. Will she take that long walk from her front porch to his front seat?
I want to talk about calling: about why we can’t stay where we are, as individuals or as a church. I want to begin to dream with you about what’s over the horizon, the future that’s just beyond our grasp.
I want to invite you to take that long walk with me into the future. Because God is calling us to something new, something different. Something that will require us to leave behind all we know, what’s made us comfortable, what feels safe and normal.
And we don’t get a road map. Jesus done took the wheel. God is in the driver’s seat, extending a hand, inviting us to climb in.