Any vacation near the Western edge of South Dakota will take you to a couple of must-stop destinations: Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and, of course, Wall Drug. Pheasant hunters know the signs well across the State, but I’ll venture a guess that just about everybody—American anyway—has seen the signs for and has heard about the famous Wall Drug. Honestly, not just Americans. Wall Drug signs are everywhere around the world, not just in the upper Midwest where I’ve seen them all my life. Maybe they arrive in these far-off destinations from well-intentioned Midwesterners that chuckle at a little connection to something familiar so far away, even if the sign in Afghanistan says 6,964 miles to Wall Drug.
It’s an experience to visit Wall Drug. Sure, it has its tourist-trap elements—gaudy, cheap T‑shirts, and wall full of jackalopes with price tags hanging from their shiny antlers. Wall Drug also offers a famous five-cent cup of coffee. In these modern economic times, where most of us have inhaled sharply when a fancy cup of coffee nicks us for close to five bucks, I smiled during my last stop at Wall Drug. I bought a pretty darn good cup of coffee and left a nickel in the self-pay box next to the coffee pitcher. I passed on the jackalopes.
All the signs highlight the distance, but if you’ve never been to Wall Drug, you don’t know what the hubbub is all about. If you ask someone, they try to tell you about all the gift items, the cowboy statues for photo ops, the restaurant, free ice water. But unless you’ve been there, unless you’ve experienced it, it’s just kind of a passing thought: “hmmmm … 1,258 miles to Wall Drug. Funny little spot in the middle of Nowhere, South Dakota: what is the big deal about a drug store?”
Today it makes me think of something else—someone else more precisely—who was completely ordinary: a carpenter from Galilee. No remarkable pedigree; a couple of local yokels named Mary and Joseph raising him. No exceptional schooling except the craftsmanship of table-making. No real notice of him at all, until one day he changes water into wine and then shortly thereafter a dove descends near the River Jordan and a voice from heaven declares: “This is my Son, with whom I am well-pleased.” From that point, through his ministry of miracles and his ultimate death on a cross and resurrection from the tomb, many of us mark the distance in our lives. Do we contemplate how far “away” we are…or discover there is no distance at all? Are we are one with Christ? If God resides in us, the distance breached, is the gap closed by Jesus Christ?
We measure in miles this distance to Wall Drug. And for those traveling with kids, there’s the well-known refrain, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
Likewise, might we symbolically measure the distance to our Lord and Savior? It does not matter if we are one mile, five miles, 1,258 miles or 6,946 miles. And if Christ does not reside within us, we are definitely not there yet.
Sometimes it can be hard to explain to someone else what sharing space in your heart with the Creator of the Universe is like. Words fail to describe it fully. There is joy … a peace that surpasses understanding; of being able to handle the good, the bad and the ugly in life with a grounded knowledge that God is in control and that everything … everything … will be all right. Without being there, does that just seem like words? When it rings true, does it sound like the very blood of life?
Today I want to ask the Lord to close the gap in my life. To enter in—sincerely invited—so that He resides in me today and every day. No more miles, no more distance separates me from God when Christ is in my heart. For in Jesus Christ, the gap—the distance—is breached.
K.J. Houtman is the author and publisher of Fish On Kids Books — chapter books for kids who enjoy fishing, camping and hunting. If you’d like to enjoy more of Houtman’s work, visit the Fish On Kids Books site at: http://fishonkidsbooks.com/ChapterBooksKidsFishHunt.html.