The Road Best Traveled

Like many of you, I’ve traveled lots of roads in my lifetime. As a youngster, most were dirt or gravel roads and backwoods paths. Around six years of age, I spent most days as far away from my home as possible. If I wasn’t at school, then I was most likely exploring the woods all around me. In reality, I was hiding from those who didn’t seem to want me around much. I thought I was better off alone, but the funny thing was, I never felt alone.

I couldn’t tell you how I knew, or who it was, but I would talk aloud to God as I wandered about or sat on a tree stump or limb. The family went to church on Sunday mornings, but the God I kept hearing about scared the bejeebers out of me. To this tow-headed little boy, they presented God as a vengeful, mean God who was just waiting for me to mess up so He could send me to hell. Jesus, His Son, was the nice one. He died for my sins so that God wouldn’t send me to hell. I’m not sure, but I bet I was talking to Jesus during those walks more than I was talking to God. I didn’t understand then that they were the same. They never mentioned words like triune and trinity. God didn’t answer me directly in those days, but I sure felt better having someone to talk to.

Looking back on my young life, I can tell you of specific instances where God answered me. There were many times where what I was talking about with Him happened. I didn’t realize it was God who sent those empty pop bottles I could collect and redeem for a writing tablet or candy. And I could have never imagined that my gruff old grandfather, who made it a point to take me with him whenever he was training a rabbit dog, was God-sent. While gruff and short-tempered around others, when he and I would go out into the fields and woods near his home, he was always patient, soft-spoken, and gentle.

Then there was my older, quiet, and sweet aunt who lived with my grandparents. Like me, she didn’t look like them. Unlike my siblings, or half-siblings, she would laugh and play. Our favorite was a new game called Twister. Who else remembers, “left-hand yellow, right-foot green?” Before long, we would tumble into a heaping pile of laughter on the back porch.

Growing older, I found myself on treacherous, twisting, and winding roads with blind curves that were fraught with danger. My independent streak took over, and I would not surrender to the things others did to me. I learned to fight back. None of those battles were ever won, but I was determined to fight them. Laying on the floor in pain, tears streaming, I quietly asked my pal God for a family that would love me. I longed to be kissed goodnight, like the others. I wanted hugs. And I was determined that one day I would find a family that loved me.

We travel many roads in this life. The key isn’t the road, but Who we travel with. #WalkingWithGod #JourneyWithJesus #TheRoadBestTraveled Share on X

After my adoption, the roads seemed to straighten out and become smoother. They were mostly two-lane city streets, highways, and by-ways, but I still talked to my invisible God as I was learning to drive. It was a good thing God was with me when I was driving. Good for me, but not for my beautiful Mustang, or the little Ford Maverick. Maybe that’s why my new dad nicknamed me “Crash.”

Even in my teens, I got away to Mary Holland Park or one of the other quiet parks in our “City of Oaks and Azaleas” whenever I could. Nature has always been a place of peace and tranquility for my soul. I learned to listen for my friend, God, in the wind, songs of birds, and the rustling of leaves. As I talked out my troubles, He patiently listened, and I learned He didn’t always have to say anything, He could just show me what He wanted me to see. That quiet time with Him always brought me a sense of peace and wellbeing. When I finally listened to His call upon my heart and surrendered to Him in salvation, I found I didn’t have to find Him in nature. He was still there in nature, but He was now always with me, and if I focused on Him, I could hear His leading.

As an adult, I traveled eight-lane super highways that caused me to whiz by life so quickly, I seldom ever found time to seek Him. I thought that’s the way it was supposed to be. It seemed what everyone else was doing. What I never realized at the time was life had become so distracted, I never needed God. I was too busy trying to gain worldly treasures that I was losing out on the greatest gifts He was offering.

It took some years—I often lament that they were too many—but I found myself alone again and I sought to reconcile myself with my old friend. This time I came to Him not as a scared and scarred child, but as an angry, disillusioned, and distrustful man of the world. How could a God who loved me allow so many bad things to happen? Divorce, death, leaving behind everything and everyone I had grown to love? How could God do this to me?

Mindful of Jacob’s battle with God (Genesis 32), I was determined to have it out with Him. Instead of a “Jacob moment”, I ended up having a “Job moment” (Job 38), and it changed my life forever. For the first time in my life, I had fully surrendered to God. I realized what a mess I had made on my own, so it was time to let Him drive.

Surrendering your life to God does two things. It places Him on the throne of your life and it releases you from the burden of this life. #SurrenderIsFreedom Share on X

These days, the older me is back to meandering among the trees and walking down dirt and gravel roads. I’ve come full circle perhaps, but the journey has freed me of so much emotional baggage and battle scars that I no longer walk burdened with life. Don’t get me wrong, life still has its moments of burden, worry, and pain. I’ve learned, though, that during my walks with my old friend, He encourages me to surrender them to Him.

Do you know a load-carrying God? You should. #GodCarriesYourLoad #TheRoadBestTraveled Share on X

Many call it “prayer walking.” I guess it is. I’ve never considered it prayer, but a conversation with a trusted friend who has been by my side my whole life. I didn’t always know it or acknowledge it, but He was always there calling to me, inviting me to come chat.

I still hear and see Him all around me here at our Cross-Dubya Ranch. I see His love when my donkeys tenderly reach out to kiss my dog in the pasture each morning. I see His faithfulness in the calves that He has blessed us with as they grow up strong and healthy. His love for my family is clear in His constant provision, giving us everything we need. We don’t always recognize it because we’ll want to focus on our wants and desires more than what He wants and desires for us. But, I think, that’s why the dirt roads and pathways that crisscross the land are always beckoning me to come take a stroll with my Lord. Strolling through this life with God is most certainly, The Road Best Traveled.

God’s blessings,


Please join me this Thursday evening at 9:00 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.

69 thoughts on “The Road Best Traveled”

  1. A sweet testimony to God’s faithfulness. I like your conversations with God as you walk and work. I am usually listening to Christian podcasts as I walk in the early morning. I will try your “conversation with a trusted friend” tomorrow instead.

  2. What a heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking, journey to be privileged to share with you, J.D.
    I absolutely loved recalling my own exploration of the woods surrounding us on the little family farm where my early years were spent. I’m not sure I had the same kinds of conversations with God that you did, but my image of Him was about as scary as yours, and He didn’t seem like someone whose attention I’d want to get focused on me.
    I think I was 13 or so before we got a paved road out at the farm, so I’m familiar with the gravel roads and all that they represent to me of those days. And though, thankfully, I wasn’t subjected to the kinds of things you had to endure, I was not surrounded by a bunch of those “touchy, feely, ‘I love you'” kinds of folks. My grandparents were products of the “great depression” and, to them, work was the most important lesson they had to teach. I have no doubt that they loved me, but their way of expressing it was radically different than what the psycho-babble crowd advocates today.
    I have to reel my head in, Brother, because your post has thrown me into a time machine and it’s hard to climb out. What I love the most about the journey you invited us to take with you is the way you managed in one way or another to keep God in the picture. Granted, both of our stories include some times when He seemed pretty distant and sometimes detached, He never abandoned us. That makes the lesson about the roads so deeply meaningful to me. I look around at where we are now and think about all the roads it took to get here, and I am overwhelmed at His patience with me when I was determined that I could decide better than Him where I needed to go and who I needed to be with. Now I am inexpressibly grateful for the dead ends I found my way to, and for the fact that He was there waiting for me.
    You were already family in our hearts, but if having that connection feel stronger, then traveling some of these roads along with you today has taken a shot at doing that. God bless you for the panorama of memories you unleashed today that reminded Diane and me not only of where we’ve been, but of where the road He guided us to will eventually lead us to.

    1. Thank you Mr. Ron. I’m always blessed by your humility and encouragement sir. When I grow up, I pray God helps me to be like Mr. Ron. If I am, then I’ve grown more like His Son. You’re a blessing sir, and I so enjoy traveling along this journey we call sanctification. I wonder, do you realize the trails you are blazing for your family? Your children, grandchildren, and generations to come will benefit from your journey in faith. Thank you for your faithfulness sir.

      I think back along the various seasons and paths in my life and the one constant I see is God’s presence and perseverance. I can’t say that I always recognized Him, but somewhere deep within me, I knew He was near. Today, there’s a great comfort in knowing that in my human fears, frailty, defeats, despair, worry, and waiting, He is there. Our constant companion who, as His Word promises, “… sticks closer than a brother …”. Oh, what peace comes from that. And also knowing that He is always ready to help share whatever burden we are facing.

      All He asks is that we give it to Him freely, and accept His love, peace, rest, comfort, and encouragement in its place. And those things? Sometimes He delivers them through people like you kind sir. God’s blessings and my prayers for you and your dear wife Ms. Diane. Your lives are creating such a strong legacy of faith. One that you not only share with your immediate family, but the “Family of Faith” with whom you share your lives.

      What an honor it is to be a part of that family.

  3. Hi J.D.,
    Thank you for sharing this glimpse into your life. My heart hurts for the little boy who longed for comfort and I thank God that He made Himself known to you.

    I, too, spent many hours outside as I wandered the unfarmed prairie and pastureland my Grandpa owned. I spoke often to God and my faithful dog about my troubled home life.

    What a blessing that He hears and heals!

    Your friend,

    1. Thank you Ms. Tammy. For many years, until God helped me to lay that down, my heart ached and hurt for that little boy too. So much was lost, and so much damage was done. It took both me and God to overcome that, and He brought wonderful people into my life to help me heal those wounds. As I learned to forgive, God taught me that He takes away the pain from those memories.

      I don’t mourn for that little boy any longer, because I realize that every road and path I’ve traveled, I’ve done so with God beside and eventually within me. That journey is what has made me who I am today.

      I wonder, in God’s eyes, He probably still sees me as a scared little child. In my eyes, I see a strong, able warrior emerging. I’m still that “warrior in training”, but I trust my Instructor. He earned my trust by dying for me.

      As for talking to dogs? Absolutely! I’m convinced there’s a reason they’re called “dog”. Can you say semordinlaps? 🙂

      God’s blessings precious sister-in-Christ. I am humbled by your kind words.

  4. A beautiful and down-to-earth (literally) story of how God reached down to touch your life in so many ways in so many stages of your life, J. D. Most folks wouldn’t be as honest and forthcoming with their own stories of how the Lord worked so diligently to bring you to Him. As a Christian late-bloomer, I can really appreciate the many stages of your growth and understanding that when we talk to God, we are praying to Him. It’s as simple as that. But it always requires our complete surrender to His will and His ways.
    Blessings, my friend!

    1. Thank you Ms. Martha. I can look back across my life and she how diligently Christ pursued me. When you do that, you can see the value He holds in each life. What a moment it is when we finally understand the price He paid.

    1. Oh my. “Lord, help me to become the man this sweet sister thinks I am.” You are always far too kind sweet lady. I will endeavor to become the man of God that He wills me to be. Flawed as a man, but perfect in His Son. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Thank you Ms. Debbie. I think we have all traveled some difficult roads in our life. I remind myself when times get “hard” that it is in the struggle for/of sanctification that God is strengthening us for what He knows is to come. Thank you for such encouragement and support ma’am. Most grateful.

    1. Amen Ms. Barbara. They weren’t always “easy roads”, but God knew they were the roads He needed me to take so that one day I could become the man He created me to be. God’s blessings my wise and oh so kind friend.

    1. Isn’t it wonderful Ms. Ethel? To know that I have a friend who will never leave or forsake me brings such peace to my soul. And it only took two words, “Yes, Lord.” God’s blessings ma’am, and thank you so much for joining our conversation. What a blessing to finally meet you ma’am.

  5. JD, your messages always make me feel like I’m right there with you. I feel like I am walking beside you as you share your life experiences. Thank you for writing such beautiful messages that touch the heart and soul. Have a blessed week dear friend! 🙂

    1. How very kind Ms. Melissa. I often daydream that I can walk around with my wonderful writing friends here at the Cross-Dubya. I’ve been blessed to be able to do that with a few. I imagine that they find the same lessons and closeness to God here that I have. God’s blessings sweet sister, and know that you and “Bop” are always welcome my friend.

  6. Thank you for sharing your journey with us J.D. It is both painful and heartwarming with God woven through it all. My heart hurts for that little boy who didn’t feel loved and for the teenager who was physically hurt. But God shaped a good man out of all that mess! God bless you J.D. Love you brother!

    1. Don’t hurt for that young boy in the past Ms. Cathy; through those trials, God made him into a strong, Christian man, that endeavors to help others in their sometimes grievous journies.

  7. You are such a story-teller, J.D. Your writing is so full of imagery. I appreciate your vulnerability in sharing your story and always tugs at my heart hearing the disappointments you lived through, especially as a child. I remember the game Twister–fun! I, too, want to stay on the best road, prayer walking, and letting God be my guide. God bless!

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. As you to ma’am, I try to right what God puts on my heart. I remind myself that I am writing for and to Him. It’s my small gift in appreciation for ALL He has given, is giving, and will give to me my friend.

      I fear if I tried to play Twister today, I’d be stuck that way. 😀

      Here’s to keeping on the paths God places us on. We never know who He’ll have us meet or help along the way. Or in your case, help me along the way. Thank you for all your encouragement ma’am.

  8. It is encouraging to know though we may not be on the right path at times in life the Saviour will gently lead more perfectly, to the way, . . to the end of the way.
    Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119: 105

    1. Amen sir. Isn’t it funny that nowadays, we can feel His gentle leading when we begin to stray from His path. And the more we stray, the more firm He becomes. At some point though, He lets go because He will not walk into sin with us. Instead, He patiently waits, with a gentle calling in our souls, to return to His path. Alas, the road best traveled my friend.

  9. What a wonderful way to share your testimony. The journey motif is ingrained in us, from Biblical stories through “The Hero’s Quest,” and all the best books and movies. But real life is HISstory, every step of the way. So grateful for His faithfulness in our lives.

  10. Thank you for sharing from your heart. A beautiful testimony to our Lord’s lovingkindness. How patient He is with His children. Blessings!

    1. Yes ma’am, Ms. Marjorie. He is ever patient. I know that one day His patience will come to an end and “the Father’s Call” will come. In that moment, I pray His patient leading has moved me further down His road than I am today.

  11. JD, you are spot on here. As I was reading your words, the song He Walks With Me by Merle Haggard played in my head. Good memories. (AKA In The Garden)

    I come to the garden alone
    While the dew is still on roses
    And the voice I hear falling on my ear
    The son of God discloses

    And he walks with me and he talks with me
    And he tells me I am his own
    And the joy we share as we tarry there
    None other has ever known

    He speaks and the sound of his voice
    Is so sweet, the birds hush their singing
    And the melody that he gave to me
    Within my heart is ringing

    And he walks with me and he talks with me
    And he tells me I am his own
    And the joy we share as we tarry there
    None other has ever known

    1. I love that song Mr. Craig. It’s been many years since I heard “the Hag” sing this. May just have to look that up. Funny perhaps, but I opened my iPhone and searched for “In the Garden”. I have it by three different artists. Don’t reckon I like that song, do ya? 🙂 Listening to the version by Joey and Rory as I’m typing this response.

  12. I so enjoyed reading your testimony, J. D. I love to hear how God brought individual people to Himself. Some say God doesn’t have much to do with us until after we become Christians, but I disagree. He shows Himself and draws us long before we acknowledge Him. And I am so very thankful.

    1. Oh no ma’am. If God has chosen us, as I believe, He is with us even in our lostness. Perhaps at some point, when we’ve rejected His call and authority enough and have given ourselves over to darkness, then He quits calling. I don’t think that He ever quits hoping the return of His prodigal though. God’s blessings sweet sister.

      I too am so thankful that He never gave up on me. He knew that one day He would direct me to His path for me.

  13. Once again, you touched my heart with your words. What an amazing picture of how we should approach our relationship with Christ, as talking with a friend as we share our burdens. Thank you for sharing your story and wisdom JD. Blessings my friend

  14. It is fascinating where the roads we travel take us. Often to unexpected places. We can’t see around the bend or over the hill, but we journey on. Most of the time, it’s only in looking back, that we realize where we’ve been and where we’re headed. It’s so good to know we don’t travel alone. Blessings on your journey, my friend.

    1. Thank you Ms. Terri. Isn’t amazing how He helps guide us along His path, even when we don’t know we’re on it and can’t understand where He’s leading. Then, upon our salvation, He reveals the end of our journey — eternity with Him. We can’t know, and I don’t think I would want to know, what hardships, trials, and sorrows we’ll face, but faith compels us to take His hand and take that next step. God’s blessings sweet sister-in-Christ.

  15. I appreciate hearing of your journey with God, J.D., and the things you’ve learned along the way. We do see our loving God everyday in the little moments and beauties of that day!

    1. Yes ma’am. Among my great joys in life, and I count the big things like adoption, salvation (the greatest adoption), my wife, the children I’ve loved and cared for, and my wonderful friendships, my journey with Him (and especially the closeness I’ve found to Him here at the ranch) is the most rewarding by far. God’s blessings ma’am.

  16. I sure do love (and benefit from) your tender-loving relationship with our heavenly, perfect, and wonderful Father. Thanks for this poignant journey back in time. Ever grateful the Lord loved your along your journey and caused our paths to cross!

    1. You are much too kind Ms. Mary. I can say the same thing about your journey though my friend, and I’m sure glad it is bringing all y’all back to Texas. My day gets brighter when you’re in it sweet sister-in-Christ.

  17. Pingback: What Did the Angels Proclaim? - Tammy Kennington

  18. Thank you, JD, for another honest look at life and faith. Our roads can be so twisty (and our lives so twisted), yet our friend God is always there with us. He’s always ready to straighten things out and keep us near.

    1. What a pleasure it was to bring you along ma’am. Next time, bring my buddy Mr. Phil with you. 🙂 I have IT questions.

  19. As I read your message, J.D., I mourned for that sad little boy and for the lost adult. But I rejoice for the man who found his Lord again on the lonely road. Your story reminds us that we’re never alone, but we must make the choice to reach out to our loving Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. You are a wonderful example of the scared and lonely prodigal returning to his father. Like that father, your heavenly Father rejoices in the man you have become. May He continue to bless your ministry. Thank you for this beautiful and inspiring message of hope and love.

    1. Thank you Ms. Katherine, but no mourning my friend. That sad little boy and troubled young man was given a difficult path for a reason. And the sad part is, he made it more difficult than it had to be by not surrendering himself fully and listening. He was far too full of himself. God knew that was the case all along though and patiently worked. I’ve been on that “Potter’s wheel” far more often that perhaps I even know, but maybe now that I’m “in the fourth quarter”, I’m starting to take shape. I imagine that you and I feel the same way in that, “We can’t wait to see what the final product will be like.” We know who though, don’t we? God’s blessings dear friend.

    1. Thank you Ms. Nancy. It’s not made up of roads I might wish for other folks, but I sure am appreciative of finally being able to see my destination. 🙂 God’s blessings my friend.

  20. Beautiful post, JD. I can see you walking and talking with the Lord. Isn’t He so wonderful to show you answers and lead you along life’s path! Such a powerful testimony, dear brother. (And my dad’s nickname was Crash too for the same reason!)
    Blessings on your week.

    1. It absolutely is a wonderful experience ma’am. I hope that one day, you and Meg can come visit and experience it for yourselves. Glad I got that “Crash” part out of my system when I was young and better able to absorb the punishment, but in my defense neither of them were my fault. 🙂 My decision-making though. That’s on me!

  21. Kathy Collard Miller

    I look back, J.D., on my early Christian life and reflect on how confusing it was to know God’s will when I followed what I thought He communicated but it didn’t turn out. Now I’m grateful for those experiences because I learned God’s guidance is a mystery. What I “hear” may or may not be correct. Yet, God can take care of my mistakes–honest or not. Thank you, J.D., for again encouraging me to seek intimacy with God.

    1. Yes! I too have learned that I shouldn’t always act in haste to what I perceive may be God’s calling. If it’s God, I’ll receive the validation needed to confirm it’s His will and not my own, or my own lack of understanding. Great points Ms. Kathy. Our gift of discernment does get honed with experience, doesn’t it?

  22. There truly is no better road than to journey with the Lord. It may not be easy. The challenges may be great. The pain deep at times. Yet we sing, “It will be worth it all!” J.D., thank you for sharing your journey but more so, thank you for sharing how Christ was faithful to you every step of the way. Blessings, friend, may He heap blessing upon blessing on you!

  23. J.D., I’m so encouraged to get the bird’s-eye view of your testimony. I’m sure there are a million more God stories wrapped up in this short post. Your title reminds me we always do best on the path God has allowed, even one fraught with difficulties. It’s taken me a long time to come to this understanding, but now I wouldn’t trade anything for an easier road that took me further from my Father. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Ms. Annie. It’s also taken me years to learn to recognize His path my friend, but when we’re on it, life becomes so much better. Not easier perhaps, but better. Like you, I would not trade the paths He has taken me down for anything because I realize that unless I had traveled those best paths, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

  24. After thinking about it, I decided my best road is the one-way street! I turned my sights onto the one-way street early in life. Sure, I’ve made plenty of detours along the way but those were mostly in my teenage years when stupid mistakes can have costly consequences. But there’s a sense of security to be heading one direction. And the destination . . . well, I have not arrived there yet, but I understand it is awesome.

    1. I love that analogy Ms. Karen. “A one-way street”, ever moving forward. Even if we get detoured now and again, we can rely upon God to get us back on the street He intended us to travel and help us to keep moving forward. Thank you for sharing with us ma’am. Much appreciated.

    1. Amen Ms. LuAnn. And for that, I am most grateful. I’m certain that but for His grace, He would have given up on me many years ago ma’am. Thank you for commenting sweet friend.

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