My husband, Mr. Holly, and I packed our convertible full of hundreds of Bibles and hit the open road. We started in Chicago at the beginning of historic Route 66 and finished at the Santa Monica Pier in California. Why did we embark on a cross-country road trip of a lifetime?
Well, here’s why. Each fall, I’m reminded of the great harvest, and I become inspired by God to share the good news. In Matthew 9:37-38 (NIV), Jesus says to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Jesus was, of course, referring to the crowds of people following Him as being ripe for the harvest.
We know many people today who are ripe for the harvest. They just need believers (workers of the light) to slow down and work the fields around them. Many people are ready to give their life to Christ at any moment. All they need is someone to guide them.
Crops cannot be harvested without a worker to come alongside and labor in the fields. The crops are full of souls who long to know the Lord of all. The harvest worker plants seeds along life’s path using the tools of conversation, sharing the gospel with tracts, and handing invitations to know Jesus by giving away Bibles.
Each fall God gently reminds me of the importance of the harvest season, and each fall I hand out Bibles in my local town where I travel daily for errands. I eagerly and anxiously await the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and then I spring into action with a witty one-liner—the kind that only God can give to me to break the ice.
As I was gearing up to order my Bibles for the upcoming harvest season, God greatly expanded my boundaries. A question about the possibility of making a road trip across the U.S. and handing out Bibles every day everywhere we went entered my mind.
My question was answered before my thoughts had finished dancing on the preemptive road trip of a lifetime. God said, “Go!” “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone” (Mark 16:15 NLT). I had just been given permission to let the very, very good news—that very news so dear to my heart—rip and share it like a newsboy on every corner where we stopped! Yep! So, I ordered hundreds of Bibles, an order much different than my allotment of years past.
I might have put the cart before the horse a bit, but when I ran this crazy road trip idea past my husband, Mr. Holly, he was all in! He was as excited as I was.
Mr. Holly, the planner, scheduled our timed stops and the route we would take. We packed the convertible to the gills—to the point not one more thing would fit in it, and we were off. Our two-week round-trip revival ride started in Virginia and headed to Chicago at the official start of the Route 66 and ended at the pier in Santa Monica, California.
As soon as we entered Illinois, the home of Abraham Lincoln, we rolled down the top and donned our matching Abe Lincoln hat and beards. Spreading good news and joy was our mission, and we were surely doing it right out of the gates!
With plans to make two to three stops in each state, I got permission in advance from as many towns as I could to set up our backdrop and hand out books, and we went for it. We had a lovely ten by twelve portable backdrop of angel wings, and people loved getting their picture taken in front of it. Most accepted a copy of the Bible. Some chatted about their heartache and what the church had done to them and how they had turned away. We sympathized. If you’ve gone to church long enough, you’re bound to be hurt. Every church is full of imperfect people trying to get through life, and imperfect people make mistakes. We encouraged others not to attach their relationship with God to people or churches, but to get attached to God who doesn’t make mistakes and never lets us down.
When talking with people, the harvest is dependent upon the Holy Spirit who guides, reveals truth to us, and enables us to respond to that truth. The work of the Holy Spirit guides our conversations and also prompts the “crops” to walk by our angel sign for a “better look” and the beautiful opportunity for us to become love for a sentence or two. We just simply loved on people, and most people aren’t used to that. We simply flashed our smiles while extending a Book bearing the good news of all time.
We were also challenged and encouraged by others along the way. We were handed money even though we weren’t soliciting. People simply loved what God was doing through us and wanted to be a part of it. We waited for the opportunity, then we passed along the monetary love to some unsuspecting restaurant workers.
From the giant walk-through Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma; to the gigantic rocking chair of Fanning, Missouri; to the spray-painted cars of the Cadillac Ranch sculpture in Amarillo, Texas; to the larger-than-life breathtaking cross in Groom, Texas; we loved people and our nation. In Groom, we enjoyed a beautiful walk-through sculpture of the stations of the cross. What a magnificent sight! We met people everywhere and talked about Jesus.
We traveled side-by-side with a crew of bikers from Australia completing their Route 66 bucket list. As we talked about Jesus, they were polite, wished us well and presented us with a clip-on antenna cola bear—a token of their love, which made my heart full. I had one like it as a kid! As they were walking away, one lady delicately leaned over to me and said, “I’m a believer.” I smiled and wished them well.
Usually when we met groups of people, one would whisper some kind of message of being a believer. My heart always leaped upon hearing it, but each time, I also wondered why all the secrecy.
Along with handing out Bibles, we also gave away free eBook downloads for my most recent book, More Jesus More Joy 365 a daily devotional, fish earrings, and cross keychains. We also handed out a few t-shirts and invitations to attend the free Together Generation event at the Texas Motor Speedway which was coming up. The previous event that the Together Generation held was at the mall in Washington, D.C. They will have another gathering on June 20, 2020. More info here for Together Generation.
We then headed to the much-anticipated Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch in Oro Grande, California, and the coolest thing there wasn’t the bottles; it was Elmer! I was so excited to see all the bottle sculptures, each and every one in its place. We walked around some among the exhibits, and then Elmer himself, the constant resident sculptor, paid us a visit. He liked to talk, and I enjoyed listening to him. He talked quite a bit about life, and I was quite surprised when he became somewhat serious as he began to share about his life in Jesus.
Elmer uses his sculpture to share about Jesus when people visit! I was all ears! He encouraged us to memorize a proverb a week as it’s good for the soul. He also couldn’t understand how people nowadays get caught up in the color of each other’s skin, or as he called it “wrapping paper.” “Wrapping paper is just a cover for the soul. The paper that holds the gift.” Meeting Elmer was a beautiful surprise. His words stayed with me as we drove off.
So, what did we learn on our Route 66 trip? We learned most people long for conversation and to be in community. People aren’t as far gone as the news and social media seem to portray. People are still inherently good, want good things for others, and want to be included and befriended. They desperately want someone to invite and come alongside them in community.
Yeah, we handed out Bibles and smiles but we were given much more in return. We had our hearts reset for humanity as a whole. God is not far away; He is right here waiting in the wings. He sends messengers to remind others of His invitation, and He patiently waits for His beloveds to come back home.