5 Stars Out Of 5
"Road Trip to Redemption" by Brad Mathias
June 29, 2013
This is the story of Brad Mathias, his wife Paige, and their children Jessica, Bethany and Caleb. Brad believed his family was doing well, coping with the normal ups and downs of life. That is until the night God literally told Brad and Paige to go to Bethany and, "Ask her to reveal what she has hidden."
Months of thinking that Bethany was just going through a faze, or being a difficult child, came crashing down with her revelation. Parental guilt overflowed that he hadn't seen the pain she was in, and confronted her sooner.
About a decade earlier, Brad had not been close to God. He had an affair, separated from his family, and divorce proceedings started. Brad had lived in another state away from his family during all of this. Paige had a renewal of her Christian faith, and didn't finalize the divorce. Next, Brad developed a real relationship with Jesus Christ, and eventually the two reconciled, and he moved back home. Their new found faith allowed the two of them to rebuild their marriage into something stronger than it ever had been before.
Unfortunately the separation, turmoil, and upheaval from that time had long lasting negative effects on each of his children. Because of that, Brad felt he had been unsuccessful as a parent, and never felt truly confident in his parenting abilities from that time forward. Now this incident made him believe that all those thoughts were true, and he had failed once again in the parenting department.
Nine months later, Bethany was doing a bit better. She was in counseling, taking medication, Brad and Paige had attempted to connect with some good heart-to-heart conversations. But things weren't at a place Brad was happy with. The joy was missing from Bethany's spirit and countenance. Bethany was still in a very delicate state, as if she were just one breath away from crumbling apart.
After Brad's discovery of his faith, he changed careers and joined the staff at his church. He and his family attended church regularly, but Brad wondered how deep each of his children's faith really was. Brad prayed fervently for his children's faith to be real, to have meaning, to be something to lean on and draw power from during difficult times. He asked God for a break through among them to achieve closer relationships for his entire family.
Brad felt the Lord was telling him to take his family on a road trip into the wilderness of Canada and the USA. He questioned this often. Brad loved hiking and exploring in the Rocky Mountains of both Canada and the United States. Because of that, he wondered if this was some wishful thinking on his part, or was God really leading him to take his family on this trip? Could it be possible for a family road trip bring healing?
His kids fought as siblings do, so short trips with all the family in the car had hardly been bearable. They had never done a long trip as a family. A multi-thousand mile trip with everyone squished in one vehicle for hours on multiple days did not sound doable. He was sure his wife would shoot down the idea. But when he broached the subject with Paige, she surprisingly supported the idea.
The trip turned into a family reunion of sorts. Brad's brother and his family would come too, following behind them to Canada in their own car. Brad's parents would fly out ahead of them to Canada, and be there when everyone arrived. They would all meet up for a time of hiking, exploring and relaxing with each other.
Brad made an onerous driving schedule that involved driving 900 miles or more for three days to get to Canada. During that time, the kids togetherness consisted of them making sarcastically cutting remarks to each other, or retreating into a comatose-type state with electronic gadgets. The first two days of travel involved them driving through torrential downpours and literally dodging tornadoes. Brad really wondered if he had heard God correctly about going on this trip.
Once they all made it to Canada, however, things slowed down to a nice pace. For the first time, he got to share his beloved wilderness with his children-hiking, viewing pristine lakes, soaking up the wonder of God's creation. Much to Brad's delight, his children appreciated the wilderness. With all of the extended family together, they made wonderful memories, and felt like their communication had gotten to a bit deeper level. Brad felt his family's faith had begun to grow, but it had not gotten to the point he wanted it to be.
One morning on the journey home, Brad felt impressed by God to, "Tell them I have something special to show Bethany this morning, but all three will see something just for them today." He was torn about telling his family that message and that it was from God. Would it be something that really happened, or was he indulging in wishful thinking? If he said it, and nothing happened, what would it do to his family's newly growing faith-especially Bethany who was still very fragile?
Brad felt this message had to do with a moose. Bethany had been begging the entire trip to see this animal, and Brad had been praying the whole time it would happen. But Brad had told her moose sightings were very rare, and in the area of the of the country they were in now, it would be even more rare. He really was fighting not to say anything about this message, but the impression just kept getting stronger and stronger until eventually Brad had to give in. He told Bethany that God was going to let her see something very special that day, and to make sure she had her camera.
The visibility that morning was almost zero because the thickest fog they had ever seen surrounded the road and all the cars. Brad wondered how they would see anything in fog like that. Suddenly, Brad felt he should pull over immediately, so he complied. After his family piled out of the car, the fog seemed to lift, and there was a female moose. She was calming eating, not spooked at all by the gawking humans. Bethany was thrilled, and took many pictures.
Afterwards in the car, Brad reminded Bethany how very rare it was to see a moose, and female sightings were rarer still. He explained that God had arranged for that moose to be there just for her to see. Bethany felt very special, and the incident helped her in many ways. She felt favored by God that He would arrange a desire of her heart, and that He was listening to her prayers. Her confidence was boosted, and her faith strengthened from that day forward. Brad was happy to see the return of smiles and joy to her face.
Later that same day, Caleb and Jessica also had special moments. Caleb had a literal mountaintop experience when he took a trail to a mountain top, and felt the power and majesty of God-his faith also increased from then on.
Right before sundown, Jessica and Brad witnessed a very rare sighting of three perfect rainbows. Their beauty was intense and awe-inspiring, and a great reminder that God keeps His promises. Jessica felt she had been singled out by God to see something special. The Lord became more real to her because of this trip, and her faith also grew from then on.
A road trip might not be the prescription for everyone's recovery, but for the Mathias family it was just what the Great Physician ordered. The vacation did what Brad had prayed for: strengthened each family member's faith and made it real, the beginning of true healing of the scars from the past year, and a new closeness for them all.
I enjoyed reading the Mathias family's story. After of the first part of the book, the story slowed, but the book really got my attention again once they started their road trip. I liked reading the details of the vacation mixed with the thoughts and emotions experienced at the same time. I was delighted to read the Mathias family received such blessings from an activity that I cherish-the family trip. Some of the best memories in my own life occurred on family trips. I recommend this book and give it five stars.
The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through Tyndale Blog Network (Tyndale House Publishers) for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner. Despite my receiving the book free, it has not influenced my judgment, and I have given an honest opinion.