I’m a destination guy.
You know, the kind of guy who makes everybody go to the bathroom twice before getting in the car to drive eight hours to the beach. No stopping unless you can provide sufficient evidence that you are slipping into “imminent emergency.” Even then, I’m certain you can hold it just a little longer. No pain, no gain, right? The objective, you see, is to be someplace, not journey.
Or so I thought.
I’m kind of in Destination Detox. “Hello, I’m Chris and I’m a destination guy.” It pains me to say it, but I’m learning life is actually about the journey. How you travel is as important as arriving. In fact, you can’t arrive unless you’ve journeyed. Those last two sentences roll out as if I’ve become comfortable with the idea. Really, it is more like I’m reading them from a script. They are the hard-earned statements my mind has learned over the past 365 days but my heart seems more cautious to embrace. However, I believe God has determined He’s been patient long enough, and He intends to resolve this journey issue with me.
It was one year ago today that my family returned to the United States after living in England for two years. It was an unexpected return and one we knew would present many challenges. This isn’t the best economy for casting one’s lot in a job market loaded with talented former employees, but I didn’t think I’d still be looking for a job 12 months later. Meanwhile I’ve become self-employed. Some days I’m not a fan of the boss.
Through it all I’m learning at least five things about God.
1. God doesn’t really care about your destination
Well, He cares, but He doesn’t. If you are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, your destination is secure. God is faithful – and able – to keep you persevering to the end then bring you into His eternal presence. He certainly isn’t sweating His ability to accomplish what He’s promised which is why I doubt God gives much, if any, thought to your destination. What would be the point?
2. God does care a great deal, then, about the journey
This rather unfortunate epiphany is what has caused me a great deal of angst. Journeys have never been fun for me because I don’t like long rides, delayed flights, cramped airplanes, rubbery chicken rice pilaf stuff served with a hard roll, frozen butter and water packaged in a snack-sized apple sauce container. Destinations are funner because they are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But I am learning it is life’s journey that prepares you for the heavenly destination. God uses the daily journey, its trials, victories and mundane realities to “conform you to the image of His Son.” His expectation is that you’ll live life well, growing closer to Christ, and see every step of the journey as a step closer to THE destination of being in His presence.
3. God does in fact intend all things for our good
We Christians are quick to quote Romans 8:28, mostly in hindsight and after everything has worked out the way we hoped it would. But are we willing to say right now – before we are diagnosed with cancer, or a child dies unexpectedly, or we lose a job and a house is foreclosed on – that come what may, all things work together for the good of those who love God. I’m learning if there is no condemnation in Christ, then bad things don’t happen to redeemed people because God purposes all those challenges for our good. To apprehend this truth, we have to bend our way of thinking to align with the Bible, and I’m pretty sure we are often guilty of bending the Bible to fit our Western way of thinking. What we see as “bad things” are actually the very things God uses to shape our character to the image of Christ, which is the best thing that could ever happen to us. God is good…all the time.
4. God’s mercy is bottomless, and He offers it liberally
I simply don’t fully understand how my family has survived a year without me having full-time work. God has used so many family members and friends to provide in so many different ways. We are by no means on solid financial footing, but we’ve been the recipients of just in time grace on numerous occasions. I confess I’ve been a disgruntled traveler at times. In all cases God has been merciful to both provide for us and shepherd me. God’s mercy is the cocoon that nurtures the process.
5. God loves us (Okay, I knew this one but it still amazes me)
How can a holy God look at rebellious people and not incinerate us on sight? Love found in the tangible expression of Jesus…period. He died in our place to reconcile to God all who will repent and believe. The cross is evidence of the depth of His love. So, repent. Believe. Be free.
God never promised the journey would be fun – and the past year certainly hasn’t been what I expected – but we all travel through life one of two ways: Either we journey with God or we wander without Him. Our family, we’re fighting for the journey.