We took a lot of car vacations when I was a kid.
We’d drive thousands of miles pulling a trailer behind the wagon. For the kids who got to sit in the “way back” as we called it, that meant staring straight at a trailer for thousand of miles. How could we stare straight at something trailing along behind us? Because the way back of our station wagon looked like this:
The rear seat folded flat for cargo or up for passengers, which meant the whole car looked something like this with the rear seat in passenger position.
That middle portion was the back seat and the rear portion is the way back. Depending on mood, the way back was at times highly coveted even if offering a limited view.
Another way to pass the time besides stare at the front of the trailer to our rear, though, was through song.
Singing the Miles Away
In the olden days cars didn’t come with mp3 jacks and video players. In my childhood we didn’t even have tape players. Just radio.
The radio only provided a distraction from the tedium as long as there were radio stations whose broadcasts reached our car. Satellite radio hadn’t been invented, and even FM stations were not yet available on car radios. Just AM stations, some of which operated on the lowest of watts out in those small towns we passed through.
So we sang our own songs.
Well, not really our own but songs that everyone could join in, even the youngest (me). These were mostly sing-along type songs. “When the Saints Go Marching In” would be followed by “You Are My Sunshine” and invariably we’d sing “Oh, You Can’t Get to Heaven.”
Last night I had a dream where that last song featured prominently. What was the dream about and how did the song prominently feature? I have no idea on either score. But I woke up wondering why the song insisted people can’t get to heaven.
“Oh, You Can’t Get to Heaven” is sung in a call and response format with everyone joining together on the chorus, like this:
Oh, you can’t get to heaven
(Oh, you can’t get to heaven)
On roller skates,
(On roller skates,)
‘Cause you’d roll right by
(‘Cause you’d roll right by)
Those pearly gates.
(Those pearly gates.)
Oh you can’t get to heaven on roller skates,
‘Cause you’d roll right by those pearly gates.
I ain’t gonna grieve my Lord no more.
The song continues for as long as you can come up with ways to not get to heaven. It’s a silly song, but worth a look for one important purpose: the truth of the gospel in it.
Because the truth is you can’t have a right relationship with God by any means of your own: roller skating or otherwise. The only way to come to our heavenly Father is through Jesus and the work he’s already accomplished for you.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14:6.)
Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” … And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:9-10.)
Your right relationship with God is sealed once for all by the work of Jesus in fulfilling all God willed, and that will never change.
Jesus answered, “… I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:25, 28-30.)
So not only is Jesus fulfilling the Father’s will, but he is fulfilling his own since he and the Father are one. This is his plan for you, and he’s not letting you go.
And that’s worth singing about.