“One regular Chicken Philly Sub on wheat bread, along with one regular Turkey Breast & Provolone Sub on wheat bread. Sure, we’ll make them both a meal.” That’s the way it started. It was just one little red-headed kid, wearing a hat and a sleeveless shirt, going to lunch at Jersey Mike’s on a Saturday with his dad. The lunch was always preceded by a Saturday morning training session on the tennis court. The premise was always that if my oldest son Jadon would hustle and try hard at the session, he would be awarded with a free lunch to Jersey Mike’s after the session. I never told Jadon this, but the truth is that we were going to lunch either way after the session. Of course, I wanted Jadon to learn the game, but the tennis was secondary. Time with my kid was primary, and nothing was going to get in the way of that.
Those Saturday sessions seemed a bit arbitrary at the time, fading and blending in with all the other mundane moments of everyday life. While we were in them, those moments may have seemed like incidental or random moments along the way to something else more important, but they were far more than that. These little Saturday morning moments were bigger than even what I could imagine at the time.
The tendency in life is to think your journey is filled with mostly random and mundane moments, with a little bit of epic moments sprinkled in just to give life its spice and make it bearable. We tend to think life is made up mostly of moments “along the way” to something bigger or better. For many of us, most of these moments take place in the span of the five-day work week between the long-awaited weekend. But nothing could be further from the truth. Those little moments in between eventually become key components to what lies ahead. Those “along the way”, arbitrary moments can actually become the moment we were meant for, but just haven’t discovered yet. That it is why it is so important to have the correct approach to every day we live.
Your approach to life will either choke you into dysfunction, boredom, or misguided faith, or it will lead you into joy, expectant hope, and an edifying faith. Much of this will depend upon how you approach what most believe to be the insignificant, mundane, random moments of life. These are the in-between, “along the way” moments. I have come to the personal conviction, based on my own life experience, that nothing about life is insignificant or mundane. I have come to the personal conviction that the path is as important as the destination. “Along the way” has incredible potential if we allow it to have its brevity in the mundane of life.
In the Bible, in Luke 8:40-56, a man named Jairus comes to Jesus, falls at his feet, and begs him to come home with him and heal his twelve-year old daughter, who was dying. So Jesus went with him. The story goes on to say that while Jesus was going “along the way” to Jarius’ house to heal his daughter, a woman comes up to him and grabs the fringe of his robe. As a result, she was immediately healed of a bleeding issue.
While being surrounded by a crowd, Jesus immediately stops everything and essentially compels the woman to identify herself. He was on the way to do something else, but He wasn’t going to let this “along the way” moment to pass or lose significance either. The moment they locked eyes, Jesus told her, “Your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” I’ll bet she was glad she grabbed that “along the way” moment.
Jesus eventually ended up at Jairus’ house and healed his son as well. To Jairus, the destination meant everything. To the woman healed while Jesus was on the journey, the “along the way” meant everything. Again, every moment has purpose, even when you think it doesn’t.
Now back to Chicken Philly subs on a Saturday. I had gone to college on a tennis scholarship and had become a tennis pro at a local club, teaching tennis to adults and their children. It was how I made a living my first Summer after graduating college, along with being a High School Tennis Coach. Now, I was married, a father, and teaching the game to my own children. It seemed only natural.
To be honest, I put a basketball in Jadon’s hands long before I ever put a tennis racquet. We had many more basketball training sessions in life together. So it was no surprise that basketball was his passion, and that is where his dreams began to find their footing. The dream was to play college basketball, so tennis became secondary. Tennis was simply something I made Jadon play because he needed a second sport, and also because it complemented the footwork of basketball in so many ways. He eventually grew to love the sport of tennis, but basketball was, and still is his passion.
Before you know it, I had gone from being a dad teaching tennis and basketball to his kids and supplying them with subs, back to being a High School tennis coach to my son Jadon and my middle son Ryder. Jadon had already achieved his dream and had accepted an offer to play college basketball, on the heels of winning Conference Player of the Year in basketball his Senior year. The journey seemed to be on course.
But before we knew it, “along the way”, we found ourselves on the heels of him winning Conference Player of the Year in tennis as well. Jadon would go undefeated in Singles competition, and He and his partner would win the Conference Title in doubles, and were now playing in the finals for the Regional Doubles Championship! We’d come a long way from the little sleeveless kid hitting tennis balls just to earn a sub at Jersey Mike’s.
It was match point for Jadon and his partner, and I stood to my feet. As I waited in excited anticipation for the next point, I briefly thought, “How did we get here, and how did it happen so fast?” Basketball was and still is the destination. Yet, here we are, “along the way”, playing for a title in another sport.
Winner! Elation! We won! Jadon and his partner are the Regional Champions! Then it happened. Jadon immediately looked up at me, gave the biggest smile, and held up his fist. The moment we locked eyes, everything around me froze in time. It was as if Jadon and I were the only two people in the Universe. It seemed as if I was immediately catapulted back to those moments on the court on Saturday morning with lunch at Jersey Mike’s afterward. I’ll never forget that moment. It all led to something.
As Jadon and his partner accepted their championship medals on court, the reality set in for me. None of this was the destination. Basketball was the destination, not tennis. Basketball is still the destination. All of this just happened “along the way”, and yet, it seemed to fall into place so perfectly. Nothing was random about those Saturday mornings, even if we had never won any championships. It was just one dad and one kid making the most of the time they had together.
I never dreamed about being a tennis coach. I never even dreamed about being a father or a pastor. I was supposed to follow a dream of getting a record deal and going to Hollywood to act when I got out of college. Nothing about my life or my choices ever seemed to lead to where I am now. It all just seemed to happen “along the way.” It almost seems as though the most significant parts of my life have happened “along the way” to something else I thought I was supposed to be doing. Sometimes, the thing you think you want most in life is right in front of you, but you can’t see it because you’re so preoccupied with what you think is bigger and better.
I don’t know where Jadon’s destination will lead with basketball, or tennis for that matter. We are simply going to take the next step and enjoy the journey. Even at an age where most people say that I should discard any dreams I may have, I refuse to discard them. I still feel like God has more for me. But regardless of where we end up, I have discovered that life is filled with some pretty incredible moments in the “along the way” of every day. Whether those moments are leading to the destination or they are in fact the destination themselves, matters not to me. What I do know is that nothing about it will be mundane or random. That is the miracle of the mundane, the random, the small, the in-between, or the destination. They all hold something special, and that makes every fringe moment worth grabbing, even in a crowd. I learned that “along the way.”