what I learned about life from a beautiful, bumpy road on a faraway island

January 24, 2017 | 30 comments

Several years ago, my husband and I went to Maui with his family. While we were there, we drove the Road to Hana. The daylong road trip takes travelers along the rugged coastline of Maui.

We journeyed along the winding, wiggling worm of this legendary road. We wound our way past jaw-dropping beauty: verdant rain forests, slack-key guitarists, plunging pools, dramatic seascapes, veils of mists, and waterfalls.

The Road was beautiful and lush, but it was also fraught with pesky bugs, hairpin turns, and carsickness caused by a slithering course with hundreds of curves and bumps.

All the tourist brochures will tell you that the journey is called the Road to Hana. No one calls the trip Hana, because the trip itself isn’t about Hana. The road, it seems, is the attraction. It has a purpose greater than moving travelers from one place to another; the Road carries its own magic.

The Road to Hana holds a lesson for us. It is this: Life isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. Life isn’t Hana only. It’s the road there. The journey is part waterfall, part pothole. It’s part “whoa, did you see that?” and part “I want off of this ride RIGHT NOW.”

Where are you today? Paused at the side of the road, awestruck by the beauty? Changing a flat tire? Are you zipping along at 65 miles an hour, missing it all, or is there a dead-end up ahead and you can’t quite see past it?

Maybe the journey you’re on has left you feeling a little carsick. Pull over for a little while. People will pass you by. Let them. Meanwhile, you will lift your eyes and see that the beauty is right here persistently here despite all the heartache in life.

You are well on your way by now, headed to your destination. But don’t miss the happiness in front of you. The thing is, there will always be something getting in the way — some bitterness, some rejection, some unfinished business, some grudge, someone owed, some sickness, some kind of trial you never saw coming. But here you are anyway, and this is your journey — your one chance to enjoy the ride.

“Don’t let this throw you,” Jesus says. “You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. … I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.” (John 14:1, The Message)

For those of us in Christ, Jesus is both Hana and the road there. He is both the destination and the way.

Be at peace.

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by | January 24, 2017 | 30 comments


  1. Martha Orlando

    Indeed, Jennifer, there is joy in the journey, and we need to appreciate the ride, accepting the potholes with the waterfalls.

  2. Maree Dee

    Did you get to the end? We never did but we saw beautiful things along the way. So true life is journey. I have to learn how to enjoy the journey. I used to be a destination kind of person.

    • dukeslee

      Great question … Yes, we did get to the end. And Hana was lovely, but the best part was the journey itself. Thanks for sharing, Maree Dee!

  3. Anita

    I’ve been on roads like that! Both figuratively and actually ;). There’s something about age that helps us enjoy the journey more–the question is, how can we teach our children to enjoy the journey–or is seeking the destination at breakneck speed part of youth?

    • dukeslee

      I wonder the same thing, Anita — whether this is just part of youthful ambition??? I don’t know. But as I grow older, I am finding that I’m more likely to slow down. Maybe it’s just ’cause I can’t move as fast as I used to. 🙂 I’ll be 45 next month. Woot!

      • Anita

        Woot! Woot! In Ojeda birthday math, that makes you older than me 😉 (I’m 5, and you’ll be 9)…

    • Nancy Ruegg

      So agree with you, Anita. Age has helped me enjoy the journey more, too–one of the advantages of getting older. Good question you ask as well, about teaching our children to enjoy the journey. Worth pondering and praying about!

  4. Theresa Boedeker

    I’ve been on that same road. We stopped at a small historical church and pried open some coconuts there and ate our first right off the tree coconut. Yum! I like your point about enjoying your journey. It is our one and only for this whole life.

    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Theresa! We pried open coconuts, too. I’m trying to remember if we saw that church.

  5. Mary

    How often do we truly stop to see the beauty that is right in front of us? We are so worried we are going to miss something more important. I have the luxury of being in a season of life that I can slow down. I don’t always do that but I am working on it.

    • dukeslee

      Me, too. For me, it’s that thought that if I pull to the side of the road, everyone will pass me by, and I’ll be long forgotten. Not pretty, but that’s the truth.

      • Ruth

        Lots of people have passed me by a long time ago, but “The Tortoise and the Hare” might just be right. At any rate, God is in control, and when He says it’s time, girl, I want to be ready.

  6. Christine Duncan

    I loved this, I guess cause this is me a lot lately, lol… “It’s part “whoa, did you see that?” and part “I want off of this ride RIGHT NOW.”
    Lord, give me the eyes to see You in every single twist and turn.

    • dukeslee

      Sometimes I have both reactions in a single day, LOL! You too? xo

    • Nancy Ruegg

      Amen, Christine: “Lord, give me the eyes to see You in every single twist and turn.” Thank you for that!

  7. Meghan Weyerbacher

    I absolutely loved this. The timing is epic. Love you sister friend!

  8. Angela Howard

    I’m on mixed road right now. A lot of physical pain, but a lot of purposeful work before me that I love–in family and in ministry. Each day is choice to trust God regardless of the the bumps in the road. Thanks for writing Jennifer.

  9. Ruth

    What a great illustration! Yes, it’s more about the journey, and if we can enjoy it with a friend, especially our Best Friend, then it can be glorious.

  10. Susan

    I love this post so much because it goes perfectly with my oneword2017 and the message the Lord dropped in my heart about my word! My word is SUFFICIENT based on Matthew’s “sufficient for the day is its own trouble” – AND – Paul’s writing “His grace is all sufficient.” God is able to cover the trouble with His grace, so, DON’T POSTPONE THE JOY! Enjoy Hana AND the ride!!! Great post.

  11. JViola79

    I loved this post as it brought back such fond memories of an older friend who has since passed away. She would always give me directions on a restaurant of her choice. Totally perplexed at where we were going, I would question her. With a twinkle in her eye, she would respond, “It is not a matter of lunch. It’s the journey on the way to lunch.” And she was so right! Thank you for this beautiful reminder today!

  12. Meg Bucher

    I just read this story in your book last night, and LOVED it so much. The journey is where the joy lies …but so is heaven! No joy will be greater than the day we all get to hug our Savior. Happy Wednesday! Megs

  13. Barbara H.

    Loved this: “It’s part “whoa, did you see that?” and part “I want off of this ride RIGHT NOW.” So much of life is like that. Good and bad, and we can tend to focus on the bad and miss the good. I need to look for the good. And I look forward to heaven when it will all be good!

  14. Tiffany

    Today, I’m feeling like the flat tire, a bit deflated and left by the road side. But God. I know that’s not His plan for me, and I’m doing my best to be all-in on the journey. Today the climb feels hard. I’m encouraged by your words to look for the beauty, and there is so much of that in my life that I don’t want to miss. Praying for eyes to see.

  15. Rebecca

    I love the challenge to look at where we are on the journey (and dare I say– be grateful!) It’s such an encouragement remember that we’re all on this journey, just at different places!

  16. Julie Loos

    I’ve never been to Hawaii, this excursion sounds wonderful! You are so right about the journey. Many times I’m either at the beginning or I want to get to the destination asap. I miss the middle between. Thanks for the reminder!

  17. Lisanne

    “You are well on your way by now,” Wow, what a beautiful affirmation!

  18. Amy Jung

    I drove that road about 15 years ago. Yes…a beautiful journey…and one that illustrates walking with Christ well. Thank you for reminding me of that journey AND how it applies…

  19. Nancy Ruegg

    Oh, yes: “See the beauty that is RIGHT HERE.” God, give us eyes to notice each day’s blessings and grateful hearts of praise for each one! Thank you, Jennifer, for this delightful metaphor-message! (Or was it more of a simile?!)

  20. Sherry Thecharmofhome

    Thank you for hosting Jennifer! I know the road to Hana! Great comparison!



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