Angry mobs and station wagons

Published 11:36 am Saturday, May 3, 2014

by Brandon Robbins

What kid doesn’t want to go to Disney World? As long as I can remember, I’ve always cherished the opportunity to walk the streets of the Magic Kingdom, venturing through what Walt Disney called “The Happiest Place on Earth” (actually, he said that about Disney Land, but they’re practically the same thing!).

Growing up, my grandparents lived in Florida. So whenever we traveled that way, we were sure to plan a day at Disney. I remember vividly the 18-hour car rides, complete with backseat elbows, sketchy rest stops, annoyed parents, uncomfortable headrests, greasy fast food, and a constant refrain of “are we there yet.” Some of the biggest fights my sister and I ever had were over who was taking up the most space and how much of my air she was breathing.

Interestingly enough, years later, as I look back upon these trips, I somehow remember them fondly. Of course the days at Disney were filled with happy memories. But even the road trips themselves bring a smile to my face. It was time spent with just my parents and my sister. It wasn’t perfect. And it wasn’t always pretty. But the memories are precious.

It kind of reminds me of a letter written by a man named Paul in the New Testament. Paul was a church planter, a man who started churches wherever he went. And as he’s writing to one of these churches he started, one in a city called Philippi, he writes this: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all of my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy…God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3,8). Clearly, Paul has fond memories of his time in Philippi.

The strange thing, though, being a Christian wasn’t easy in Philippi. Later in this same letter, Paul talks about all of the persecution that is occurring in Philippi, persecution that he certainly faced himself while he was there. In fact, in another place, the Bible tells us that, while in Philippi, Paul was severely beaten and thrown into prison.

So why does he speak of this city so fondly? Probably for the same reason I cherish endless journeys in a sweltering station wagon: people. It’s not the city that Paul longs for. It’s not the Subaru station wagon that I cling to in my heart. It’s people. I love my family. and Paul loves his church.

The truth is, in life we are going to encounter all kinds of challenging experiences. For some of us, it will be angry mobs and boring car rides. For others, it will be job losses, health struggles, rejection letters, and financial struggles.

But whatever challenges may come, as long as we travel those paths with people we love, we’ll always be able to find joy in the midst of the pain, light in the midst of the darkness.

That’s because this is how God created us to be. When Jesus is asked to name the greatest of all the commandments, he says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, the two most important things in life are God and people. Trends will come and go. Economies will rise and fall. Material possessions will eventually deteriorate. But our relationships with others — these are the only things that truly last.

That’s why, this Sunday at Courtland United Methodist Church, the children of our church are hosting an event called Muffins with Mom. It’s a breakfast that will be held right before our worship service to honor and appreciate all of the women in our church.

Children will be able to both serve their moms, grandmothers, and other women in the church, as well as spend some quality time with them.

In the end, food may fall on the floor, drinks may be spilled, and everything might not go as planned. But years from now, none of that’s going to matter. Because the quality time they spend with each other, the memories they may – those are the things that will truly last.

So, ask yourself, who in your life do you need to cherish? Where do you need to start investing more time in people and less time in other things? What can you do to start making memories that truly last by investing in those who truly matter?

Because in the end, those are the only things that ever last.

Brandon Robbins is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or