What's Your Journey Like?
The following was written by Curt Brey for the December edition of our monthly newsletter, The Connection.
Another year comes to a close – time to evaluate your journey? December already? Well I suppose after another 12 months have flown by, it’s about time to dust off those goals you had set for 2015 and think about how you have done, right?
Not for me. It’s been a long year, slow, a little painful at times, but certainly a year I won’t forget.
In previous Elder’s Epistles this year I have been chronicling stages of the journey the Lord has been guiding me along in 2015. It’s certainly been a journey. Journey is defined as the act of traveling from one place to another in an excursion, or expedition.
What do we think of when we hear “excursion”, other than the largest SUV Ford has ever produced. Or when we hear “expedition”? Also another big Ford SUV. It makes me think of a long, difficult trek to a destination far away and not easy to get to. This doesn’t sound to me like a trip to Stop & Shop for a gallon of milk.
Going on an excursion sounds like it would require solid preparation; thinking, planning, preparing for what many things may occur along the way. It also sounds like we will probably encounter the unexpected, risks, problems, challenges. We don’t take an excursion to the gas station or Target.
Often we hear that walking with God is a journey. But how seriously do we really take it? I can honestly tell you that in the years I have been walking with God, I have had seasons when it was an excursion (a true journey) and seasons when it was a 10 minute trip to the store. But as I look back I can see that it was my choice whether I was braving the excursion or maybe taking the easy way out with too many quick trips to the store.
Just like anything else in life, that which is the hardest to obtain or overcome is also the most rewarding to receive. So how does that apply to our “journey”? Does that mean that we grow less, learn less, benefit less from the quick trip than we do from the challenging excursions? Yes, that is exactly correct.
This shouldn’t be new learning for me. God has helped me through a number of excursions over the years. Unfortunately I have also taken the easy way out along the way filling time with work, family, projects and general busyness – taking the “quick trips” of Christianity and maybe only when I had time. Well, after two years of being on the journey filled with excursions, change and learning, I find that I am entirely done with lukewarm, tepid, quick trips of Christianity.
Mine has been a long, challenging, and uncertain journey. The duration and distance are so long and far that I don’t know if I can ever go back to the quick trips I used to take. And I am truly happy about that. The image of myself as a quick trip, surface level follower of Jesus is so far away now that I can hardly see that guy I used to be.
Looking back, I can better understand why a journey is defined as an excursion or expedition. There have been mountains to scale, massive gorges to get across, dangerous beasts to defeat, and long dry deserts to hike through. Sounds much more like an excursion or expedition than a quick trip for a gallon of milk.
However instead of being tired from the journey, worn out or defeated, I am instead energized and excited about where the Lord has taken me along the way. I have often heard or seen the men and women of our faith and their walk but never quite understood where they were going or why. I’d wonder: how did they get so far down the path from where I am?
It’s still not completely clear and I think that’s how God designs it to be. If we completely understand it, if it makes sense, then we probably don’t really get it at all.
What I have learned on this journey is that these men and women of our faith aren’t taking the quick trips. They are engaging long and challenging excursions, one after another. Think about David Nelms, or the Smiths, or many of our other deeply entrenched missionaries. What journey took them so far from the rest of us to a point where they are confident enough in their faith that they can jump off the ledge of everyday Christianity into the great commission?
A young man that I have known for about nine years recently asked me a few questions about goal setting and planning as he finishes the year. I shared that years back I had a very different perspective than I do now. Years ago I would have been targeting more worldly goals and objectives.
Instead I shared that God often only shows us the branch we are on and wants us to reach for the next even if we can’t see it and it feels that we may fall if we reach for it. I am learning that it’s trusting that He has already planned the next branch that separates the quick trip from the journey.
I know that I’m only at the very beginning of the longer journey that God has set out for me and I still have a long way to go. But I’ll tell you that I thought I was much farther along just one to two years ago. A humbling realization. One I’d like to share in greater depth and breadth but there isn’t nearly enough space in the newsletter for that.
I’m wondering what you are thinking now.
Are we on the journey or just taking a quick trip? As we approach the end of the year, I’d ask that each of us take some time to really pray on this question. Ask God what He thinks about your journey and where He would like you to go next. Are we only grabbing for the branches we can clearly see or are we trusting that He will provide the branches as long as we keep climbing?
There are two great books to reference if you would like to dig a little deeper. One that Andre has mentioned many times is Kingdom Calling by Amy Sherman - a great book on vocational stewardship. The other is Walking with God by John Eldredge - one good man’s walk over the course of a year.
If you’d like to talk further about my journey, catch me at church any Sunday and I’d be happy to share.