Tag Archives: Journey

It’s Not About the Journey…It’s About the Experience!

“…and he delighteth in his way.” Psalm 37:23

Growing up, we did the same thing every summer for “vacation”: we drove to Michigan to see family. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my family. I have a lot of great memories from those summer visits, and I wouldn’t trade the time we spent with our Michigan family for any fancy vacation…BUT the drive…well, that’s a different story. Fact #1: We drove an old station wagon with NO A/C. Fact #2: We always took our trip at the HOTTEST part of the summer. Fact #3: I usually sat amidst the stuff crammed into the very back of the vehicle.

My Dad was the designated driver on these long, hot journeys, and let’s just say, he had one thing in mind: get there. There was no stopping at the tourist traps or the shopping malls along the way, and we had an allowance of potty breaks to be used wisely. I don’t fault him for this mindset. It’s just his personality, and I think I’ve picked some of that up myself.

For him, it was all about the destination. As long as we got to Grandma’s house by dinnertime, he felt that it was a good trip. The experience didn’t matter nearly as much to him as it did to the rest of us because he was so focused on his goal.

I, like my father, am a goal-setter. When Brian & I got married, I had already decided how our life would turn out: We would have four children (minimum). I was already working on the names. When Brian finished college, he would go to work full-time in a church somewhere for a while and then we’d start a church in Nebraska. I would homeschool, of course. And we’d stay there for the rest of our lives.

These were MY goals, but God had something completely different in mind for us: After almost eight years of marriage, we do not have any children. Brian finished college, but he has yet to work in full-time ministry. In 2008, I was diagnosed with cancer and went through six months of chemotherapy (I didn’t see that one coming!) Please know that I am not complaining about God’s choice for our path. I just want you to know where I am coming from when I talk about how I’m learning (trust me, it’s a work in progress) to delight in the way that God has established for us.

In studying these verses, I’ve seen differing opinions about WHO is doing the delighting here. One might say that it’s God Himself who delights in the way He has chosen for us. And while that is certainly true – He does delight when we follow His way – with the sentence structure the way it is, it seems more likely that the “he” here is referring to the good man – to the one on the journey. If you don’t agree, that’s okay. It is very possible that I’m wrong, but the principle is true, regardless: When we follow God’s way with the right spirit, we will delight in what He is doing in our lives.

In the Strong’s Concordance, “Delighteth” means: to be pleased with; to desire; to favor. What it basically boils down to is contentment. To want what God has given to you to the point of desiring it above anything else you could possibly have. OUCH!

Delighting doesn’t mean waking up every day with a smile on your face. It doesn’t mean that you’ll always feel happy about your situation. To delight in God’s way is to agree with God that it is the best way and to desire to follow the Lord no matter where He takes you.

Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”

So, I’ve learned that God’s purpose is ultimately not to bring me to a baby or to a full-time ministry. God’s goal is to bring me to Himself. Every burden that He gives me is not meant to be carried but brought to Him. All of this time that has been allotted as “waiting time” is not meant to be endured, it’s meant to be spent with Him. Every step that I take on this journey is not to be a hurried rush towards my goal. It’s to be a steady (and often slow) journey with my Friend.

“The hill was steep, but cheered along the way by converse sweet,

I mounted on the thought that so it might be til the height was reached;

But suddenly a narrow winding path appeared,

 and then the Master said, ‘My child, here thou wilt safest walk with me alone.’

 

I trembled, yet my heart’s deep trust replied, ‘So be it, Lord.’

 He took my feeble hand in His, accepting thus my will

to yield Him all, and to find all in Him.

One long, dark moment,

And no friend I saw, save Jesus only.

 

But oh! so tenderly He led me on and up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,

Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,

that soon I told Him all my grief and fear, and leaned on His strong arm confidingly.

And then I found my footsteps quickened, and light ineffable,

the rugged way Illumined, such light as only can be seen

In close companionship with God.

 

A little while, and we shall meet again the loved and lost;

but in the rapturous joy of greetings, such as here we cannot know,

And happy song, and heavenly embraces,

and tender recollections rushing back of pilgrim life,

methinks one memory more dear and sacred than the rest, shall rise.

 

And we who gather in the golden streets,

Shall oft be stirred to speak with grateful love

Of that dark day when Jesus bade us climb

Some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone.”

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord”

I don’t remember my first steps, and since I don’t have children of my own yet, I haven’t had the privilege of teaching a child to walk. But I know that this “big step” in life is a momentous occasion. I imagine that this one small step for man can really feel like a giant leap in that moment.

Imagine with me: I’m learning to stand. This requires a strength that I don’t have. I cling to something solid – maybe it’s a coffee table or a chair. I hold on with all my strength to something that I know can hold me up. Those first few attempts are hard. I can’t stand for long. My legs are wobbly, and time and time again, I fall. But I don’t give up. I was made to stand. I keep trying, and with that practice, I gain the strength to stand for longer periods of time.

But what good does it do me to just stand for the rest of my life? I feel an urge to go somewhere, but I haven’t gained my balance yet. That’s when my father takes me by the hand and doesn’t let go. He holds me up while I take those first steps of freedom. I’m walking places I’ve never walked before, and it feels good. I’m not too afraid because I know that he won’t let me go.

I’m getting stronger, but I’m still holding on. I haven’t felt ready to let go yet. Letting go is scary. It’s uncertain, and it can be painful. But my father is coaxing me to try: “Walk to me.” He’s right there in front of me. Do I trust him? He doesn’t let go until he knows that I’m ready. With tender care, he releases my grip from his fingers and holds out his arms. He’s only a few steps away, but in that moment, it feels like a million miles.

I reach out to him in desperation and carefully lift my foot…one step closer to him. We’ve practiced this…another step. He feels so far away. Is this what it means to trust? A third step…I don’t know if I can go any further. “Come to me. Come to Daddy.” I want to be with him. I always feel safer in his arms, but it’s taking so long to get there on these unstable legs. I don’t know if I have the strength to make it, but I’m going to keep trying.

Do you see it? Do you get the picture? “The steps” referenced in Psalm 37 are baby steps. They’re steps of faith. These steps are laborious, slow, and scary at times; but we are called to walk them. Our Father is urging us forward – calling us to “press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. He’s there right in front of us beckoning us forward: “Come to Me.”

Many times, He feels so far away, and we don’t understand why we can’t just be held safely in His arms.  But the truth is: He’s never too far away to catch us if we fall – as we surely will. It’s a struggle, but it is a growing process. We’re alive in Christ. We’ve been born into His family, but we are made for a greater purpose than just to be a safe, sheltered child of God. We were meant to move forward in faith – to walk the path that He has prepared for us.

We’ve practiced this. In those first days as a believer, He helped us to stand – strengthening our spiritual legs until we could stand upon the truth of His Word. We learned that the only anchor for our soul – the only Rock that we could cling to was the hope found in Christ. All other ground is sinking sand.

In this trial and error of learning to stand, we quickly learned what we could rely upon – what would hold us up. We may have tried to lean on something that we thought was solid only to find that it was not sufficient to meet our needs. We desperately clung to friends, to family, to our jobs, to our finances all in an effort to gain our footing. We placed our full reliance upon them, but they were not made to support the weight of the burden that we carried. We needed something made to withstand the storms of life that constantly try to knock us off our feet.

Psalm 40:2 – “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”

We’re growing, and now it’s time to step out in faith. He’s still waiting. It’s a life-long journey, and each day walked in faith is another step closer to Him. He’s calling me to Himself. I struggle for balance as I lift my foot one step closer to Him. He’s proven that He’s faithful…another step. Is this what it means to trust? I don’t know if I have the strength to make it, but I’m going to keep trying.

Lord, I’m walking to You!

Heather