A few years ago, I traveled with a guy to rodeos that would fall asleep with his mouth wide open. He snored so loud that everyone else in the car couldn’t sleep, and the driver just wanted to bang his head against the wheel of the truck hard enough to inhibit his hearing. Like clock work, the moment his head fell back in the back seat, he would be zonked out. Since the rest of us weren’t going to get an ounce of sleep on the trip anyhow, we decided to make a game of it. The moment he would fall asleep, we would began throwing spitballs at his open mouth, seeing who could hit the target first. When the first one would go in, we just wouldn’t stop. After an hour of killing time by shooting baskets, his mouth would be full of paper wads and our life would be full of joy. Whether its leaving someone in the bathroom of a truck stop, taking pictures of them drooling, or taping them to the seat, traveling partners are part of what makes rodeo fun.
For some guys, their traveling partners know them better than their wives do. Every month in ProRodeo Sports News, there is a page asking questions to a contestant, his traveling partner, and his wife, to see who knows them better. The results are sometimes shocking.
Traveling partners make the late night drives, the taxing travel, the monotony and the celebration that much more fun. If you had to rodeo alone, so much would be missed.
The same can be said for our faith journey. Too many times we try to go it alone in our walks with God. I don’t know where we got this from but it certainly doesn’t appear to be from scripture. Elijah’s ministry wasn’t running full bore until Elijah came along. Paul had Barnabas and then Silas for his travels. Moses had Aaron (Ex. 4.14ff.), and just like Paul, we get to ride in the backseat during their journeys.
Aaron would accompany Moses at some of the most important times in the history of Israel. He was there when they performed the miracles of the plagues before Pharaoh to leverage their release (Ex. 11.10). When God explained the Passover, Moses and Aaron were there (Ex. 12.1). Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron to tell them to get their people and leave Egypt (Ex. 12.31). The Israelites took their complaints to both of them, when they wished they had died in Egypt than go on this little getaway (Ex. 16.2). It was Aaron who held up Moses hands to bring victory as they fought the Amalekites (Ex. 17.12). Like the unnamed individual, who after a bullfight, helped me set all the watches at the Kearney, Nebraska Walmart to go off at three in the morning…we were real rebels! We also got a 12 pack of Mountain Dew and 2 boxes of Gushers.
But just like every traveling partner, sometimes he causes Moses some headaches. It was Aaron who led the uprising and the creation of the Golden Calf (Ex. 32). Aaron’s family, who were vital to Israel’s worship, was completely out of control (Lev. 10). It was Aaron who teamed up with Miriam to oppose Moses when they got jealous of God speaking through him (Num 12). Like the IHOP fight that my partner started, or the time I ended up in an arm wrestling match with our waitress. Some of your best friends get you in the most trouble.
A few weeks back I tried to burn a couple brush piles. My help ended up having to take care of their own chores so I was left with the decision of burning on my own or scrapping the whole deal. Calm spring days in Kansas are rare, so I decided to take advantage of the still air and burn. The moment I lit the pile, the wind shifted. I saw the smoke swirl, the flames grow, and felt the heat increase. I immediately called a buddy of mine at the fire department and said: “Its not out of control yet…but it will be soon! Come quick!” They got there in 10 minutes had it contained in two and were gone soon after. In those ten minutes, I fought the grass fire by myself, burned my leg, and got very frustrated. When the Fire Department showed up, I felt God saying: “This is why you don’t start fires alone…this is why you don’t fight fires alone.” He was pointing out my ministry and discipleship style of being a lone ranger, doing it on my own.
How many people walk into churches isolated every Sunday? How many people are serving alone? How many are trying to follow Jesus but neglecting relationships? How many are doing ministry with out partnering with others?
God gave us community, partnerships, traveling partners, to make the journey more fun, to bear each other’s burdens, and to challenge each other, and keep us going. When we work in isolation, walk in isolation, and worship in isolation, we miss out on all these gifts of relationship that God has in store for us.
Who’s your traveling partner? Who’s doing ministry alongside you?