The first part of our drive was between Dunedin to Christchurch. We took in the beauty of creation, zoomed through small towns, rose, fell and curved with the roads and went got through to Quake city in what felt like no time. The first leg of the trip was going to plan. Until, we heard the news that we were about to go into Lockdown in less than 12 hours once again. Being outside of Auckland and having to figure out how we would be able to safely get in and get home to our daughter meant some strategizing was required.
We stopped very briefly in Christchurch, filled up on petrol, got dinner and then continued our journey to Picton where the ferry would carry us back over to Te-Ika-a-Maui. The drive from Christchurch to Picton was a lot different than the first leg. Our GPS tried to take us to the West Coast, the roads were more winding and required more focus and it was night time so there was an eerie silence on the highway. The moon lit up the sky and every now and then we would see the coast, before turning back into sharp climbs and descents through mountainsides.
We eventually reached Picton with 3 hours to wait before our ferry. We had a quick nap for a few hours in our car, then loaded up onto the ferry where our Plus Lounge vouchers got us some hours of luxury at high sea. This leg of the trip was like a vacation. Filled with breath-taking views, breakfast buffets, free drinks and lounge areas to Netflix and chill.
Once we arrived in Wellington, we jumped on the road and headed straight for home. The drive through to Taupō was scenic and cruisy, with hardly any traffic or commotion. We stopped in Taupō for dinner, then took off for home – a 3 and bit hours trip according to Google Maps – and were excited to get back home to bed.
The new Waikato expressway sped the trip even more and everything indicated that we would be home in such good time that we may even get to put our daughter to sleep that night.
Now, obviously we had heard rumblings online whilst driving that people were trying to get back into Auckland and there was some traffic issues at the border. Little did we know however the full extent of what everyone was talking about until we got there ourselves. We had 15kms to travel to get to the border. Once through, it was about another 20mins before we were home. Home stretch we thought to ourselves.
I don’t know where other people were coming from, but I was fairly certain we were probably the only people who were driving back from Dunedin!
It was crippling, excruciating, mind-numbing, soul-sucking. Being an Aucklander who spends many hours a week stuck in traffic, I normally can cope. But this was something else. People were walking their dogs, strolling up and down the road talking to strangers, exercising, you name it. Mentally and energy wise, I had not factored this into my capacity so I began to doze off, zone out and lament life in a very fast decline. We arrived at the queue at about 7.30pm. We finally made it to the checkpoint at 12.30am. The final leg of the trip – 15kms – took 5 hours. When we passed through the checkpoint, there was not one ounce of joy left in my body. I was ready to go home and forget about the journey that was!
Its cliché but its true – faith is a journey. Its filled with all sorts of emotions and experiences. Some parts go marvelously to plan and feel great. Some parts are challenging but build character. Some parts are luxurious and some parts are not. Some times when we feel like we’re about to be where we want, we face an unexpected challenge and test that drains us to our core. In all these things, what’s important is our recognition of Gods presence with us.
Journeys are never one thing. They are always filled with different encounters and experiences – much like the ebbs and flows of SH1 from the bottom of the South Island to the big smoke of the 09. Lent though, reminds us of one journey that has one route that is the same for all people. This journey requires us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ. It is in this season we are to remind ourselves of this reality – That the Way of the Cross is a journey we must take, because Jesus himself has already made the way for us to embark.
As we continue on this Lenten journey, whether in the heights or depths in this moment, let us be aware of Gods presence with us – A God who has already journeyed before us. A God who made a way.