Far and away my young sons’ favorite movie of 2006 was Pixar’s Cars. I’ve enjoyed watching this delightful film with them, but afterwards I just couldn’t get the movie’s catchy hit song “Life Is a Highway” out of my mind. After awhile I started thinking about the lyrics and had to admit that in some sense life indeed is a highway. It is a movement, or journey, through space and time that begins at our conception and birth.
But where are we going?
Not surprisingly, then, when the Word of God became flesh, He identified Himself as the “way” (Jn. 14:6), and one synonym or code name for the early Church was “the Way” (e.g., Acts 9:2).
In fact, the New Testament is replete with images of the Christian life as a road or journey, often impliedly so. For example, in Luke 9:23, Our Lord says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” This suggests that we follow in Jesus’ footsteps the via crucis, the way of the Cross.
Similarly, in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:29-37), the road to Jericho is a metaphor of life’s journey, which offers us the opportunity to be “neighbor” to those whom we encounter on the way, especially those in need, reminding us that we’re not alone on the highway, that God doesn’t save us merely as isolated individuals, but as His beloved family.
When was the last time any of us were driving on the freeway without a destination? Sure, sometimes we might not be sure of the directions and even for a time get lost before we find our bearings and head in the right direction. And as we drive, especially on long journeys, we might not be thinking of our destination every minute.
But it’s safe to say that all rational, sober motorists are headed somewhere, and all decisions, such as lane changes, turns, and the like, are ordered precisely to getting there. Otherwise, it’s pointless to be on the road at all.
In the journey of life, what is our destination, our goal? Are we driving with a purpose in mind, or are we going through the motions, indifferent or ambivalent to the direction of our lives? Do we truly believe that life has a destination, that if we seek we truly will find?
Some even go so far as to perversely boast, a la rock band AC/DC’s notorious song “Highway to Hell,” about going the wrong way. If our intended destination were north, who would want to brag about heading south?
These questions held some poignancy for me last night as my wife and I drove home from the airport after attending an out-of-town wedding. We longed to be reunited with our large family. Needless to say, we drove with a purpose and took the most direct route home, our hearts filled with joyful anticipation.
The drive home vividly reminded me how much every fabric of our lives should be ordered to our final destination. The unexamined life is not worth living, but a life caught up in the quest for eternity is eminently purposeful and passionate. After all, life is a highway, and we’re headed home!