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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Riding In The Scoop

April 4th, 2003

They sat side by side in the passenger area of Gate 25, Terminal 3 at Sky Harbor. If it’s true that people married to one another for a long time eventually begin to look alike, then this seventy something couple have flown together for many years.

Surrounded by appropriately noisy young families juggling kid packs, baby strollers and otherwise testing the limits of allowable carry on luggage, this matched pair sat quietly together with only their jackets and boarding passes in hand. Their appearance was pleasant. He in a tweed sport coat, she in a turtleneck and heavy gray sweatshirt with “Charlevoix, Michigan” elegantly stitched across the front in navy blue thread. They would be flying along with me and a DC-10 full of holiday travelers from Phoenix to Minneapolis. As I watched them I silently wondered what kind of Christmas they would have.

Upon arrival at my parent’s home one day later, I was told that my Grandfather had suffered a heart attack. He stabilized a bit for a few hours, but died early Christmas morning. My Mom woke me up to say simply, “Grandpa’s gone.” I guess if you had a choice of where to spend Christmas, heaven would be right up there.

My Grandmother asked me to speak at the funeral. During the next several days I sorted through the memories I had of my Grandfather. One memory in particular elbowed its way to the front of my mind. When I was a small boy, I loved to play in the snow. If I happened to be outside at my Grandparent’s farm when Grandpa Walt was headed toward the barn to do chores, he would pull me across the snow in a scoop shovel.

I remember the first time he ever pulled me. “Sit down and hang on.”, he said.

“But Grandpa, this is not a sled!”, I said.

“Sit down and hang on.”, he said.

“But Grandpa, this is a scoop shovel!”

“Sit down and hang on!”

So I sat down in the scoop and grabbed hold of the handle. Even as a preschooler I dripped with firstborn perfectionism. I spent every second of that first ride to the barn worried that this was not a sled. It was a scoop. Sleds are for pulling. Scoops are for scooping. This is not practical.

Before I knew it we were at the barn and the ride was over. Grandpa went in to milk the cows. I was left to look back toward the house and ponder the trip.

Sometime after that first ride in the scoop I quit worrying that it wasn’t a sled and started to enjoy the ride. I held on for dear life when Grandpa spun me in a circle over icy packed snow and swung me high and wide up the sides of giant drifts. I laughed and shrieked when he broke into a run; a mere quarter inch of aluminum between me and the frozen ground. Always before I knew it we were at the barn and Grandpa would go in to milk the cows.

I confess to you that I have spent too many of my nearly 40 years worried about what I’m riding on through life. I’ve wasted too much time wishing my scoop shovel was a sled or a sleigh or a snowmobile. And I think I’d hate to know how much excitement and joy I’ve missed by being practical instead of enjoying the ride. We Americans are particularly good at working for the future at the expense of the present. We’re so consumed with upgrading to a sled that we rarely experience the thrill of riding in our scoop.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 tells us that “there is a time for everything”, including a time to be born and a time to die. In between those two events is the trip to the barn. Are you enjoying yours? Are you hanging on for dear life and allowing God in His sovereign love and plan to swing you high and wide over the big drifts of life during this thrilling, exciting and sometimes scary pull? Or are you still trying to explain to God that your scoop should be a sled?

Whatever God wants to pull you in, sit down and hang on. Enjoy the ride. Before you know it, you’ll be at the barn. At the end when you’re left to look back and ponder the trip; you’ll want memories, not regrets.

When I boarded the plane in Minneapolis for the return flight to Phoenix, there they were. The Tweed and Charlevoix couple. Row 5, seats E and F. I wondered what kind of Christmas they had.

I can’t say for certain, but it looked to me like they were riding happily in their scoop.