A few years ago, as I started a new job, I had to go out of town for training. I wasn’t the only new employee; the other girl starting a parallel position to mine had to travel to Atlanta for training as well. While I didn’t know her, it seemed logical that we carpool. We arranged to ride together to Atlanta.
What I found, though, was that what began as a simple effort to save gas soon became something more. As we rode together, we talked. We got to know one another. We became friends, of sort, before our jobs would force us into close quarters and constant conversation. Once we reached training and were thrown into a pool of other new employees from around the state, we were overwhelmed by the crowd…but we had each other. We stuck together, and the time we had spent together on the journey benefitted us once we reached the destination.
As I was praying this morning for my writing and speaking career, I realized a parallel.
So often, I long for a glimpse – just one little snapshot – of where God is taking me. I want Him to show me something of where we are going together. I want to know where all of this is going, and I confess that sometimes I wonder if it is going anywhere at all.
Just show me, Lord. Where are we going? What will this look like in 10 years? 15 years? 40 years? What will this look like in the end?
It’s hard, this not knowing where I am going. It’s like having a GPS that only tells me one step at a time. No star on the map indicating where I am moving toward…no mileage countdown showing how much farther until I am there. Just one step at a time…one turn at a time…one “recalculating” and “turn around” at a time.
This morning, though, God showed me the value of the journey. For Him, the journey with us really is as precious as the destination we’re moving toward. For Him, the journey is every bit as important as the star on the map where we will end up.
If God gave me that snapshot – the freeze frame image of where I will be in 10, 15, or 40 years – I know what I would probably do. I would probably try to make my own route. I would offer to drive, saying I know a better way. I would focus so much on the screen image of the star on the map that I would miss the scenery whizzing past my window. I would miss, more importantly and even more tragically, the interaction with the One on the journey with me.
Come on, God. Give me the wheel for just a little while. I promise I know a shortcut. I can get us there in record time. You’ll be amazed!
The point, though, is not simply to “get there.” The point is not in record time or just finally finishing the trip. The point is not simply to reach a destination, though yes – God does have a destination in mind and longs to see us reach it. The point, friends, for all of us journeying along through life wondering where we are going and when we’ll get there, is this:
It is through the journey that we get to know God. The time spent on the journey is time well-spent when we are using that time to get to know the One who has planned the trip, knows the route, and is already at the final destination.
Sweet friends, this life……it’s not about the destination. It really is, as throw pillows and clever wall plaques say, about the journey we take to get where we are going. Life is not a destination. It is a journey.
The beautiful thing is that the journey prepares us for the destination. Should I arrive at my destination prematurely, I would be hopelessly unprepared. Hopelessly lost and confused. As I invest the time in the process of getting there, though, I am readied for whatever is waiting for me at the end of the road. Even better, I get to know the One navigating the way. When I get where I’m going, I won’t be lost or overwhelmed or afraid or alone. I’ll have a deep relationship with Someone who has been there all along, and that is what will make the destination a place worth being.
What I realized this morning was that as I travel along the road with God, He carefully turns the GPS screen away from where I am sitting. There actually is a star on the map, but only God can see it. He’s the One driving. He’s the only One who really needs to see where we are going. My job is simply to be along for the ride, not complaining and not whining about how long it is taking. My job is to trust the Driver.
Friends, I don’t know where God is taking you. I don’t know the details of where you’ve already been, and I don’t even know what you see as you look around you today. What I do know is that you are not responsible for designing your route. You are not in charge of finding the “best way.” Your only job on this road trip of life is to be there. Really be there. Focus on the scenery around you and get to know the One by your side as you travel. Be there now, and when you finally pull up to wherever it is that you are going, you can really be there then.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)