One of my favorite classes this year is Celtic Christianity. In this class, we get to learn all about Christianity in Ireland, and it is so fascinating. I love seeing how other cultures come together to worship God. But this sect of Christianity has really made an impact on me. You see, Celtic Christians have carried out their faith in such unique ways over the years. We often learn in this class how these Christians would take pilgrimages and journeys in order to grow their faith. In these pilgrimages, they would leave everything behind to go on a journey in nature and spend time alone with God. This was a way for them to walk hand-in-hand with God. I mean, what a way to grow in your relationship with God! We were discussing this idea of journeys in class the other day when our professor asked a question that has remained with me ever since. She asked, “Do you feel as if you are focused on the journey or on the destination in your life?”
I’m going to be completely honest with you all. I am a destination-driven person. In volleyball practice, I was focused on getting home and going to bed. All throughout high school, I was focused on college. In college, I’ve remained focused on what my life will look like once I’ve graduated. I am EXTREMELY destination-focused. While it’s good that I’m always looking forward to what the future brings, it is also causing me to miss out on the current moment. Our journey is important. If we’re always consumed in the destination, we will miss out on what God has for us in the journey there.
Lately, for my youth students, we’ve been doing a Monthly Bible Reading Challenge. Each month, we have them read one book of the Bible while giving them a detailed schedule of what they are to read each week. Then, us leaders post a video every week that pretty much sums up all of what they read. This past week, we had them read a few chapter from Matthew. Everything we had them read was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry. As I was reading these chapters, I was still reflecting over this idea of journeys and destinations. And I just kept thinking about how Jesus demonstrated this idea perfectly. You see, Jesus’ journey wasn’t perfect. He faced hate, persecution and people that whole-heartedly believed he was a fraud. But he took each and every moment to glorify God. When he was in the desert for forty days and forty nights without food, there wasn’t once we heard him say, “I’m so ready for this to be over.” It was a part of his journey, and he embraced it. Yet, Jesus was also focused on the destination. He was constantly preparing for the day when he could save this broken world he was living in. He was probably also a little intimidated by what the destination would bring, but he put his full trust in God.
After lots of reflecting, I believe that Jesus’ ministry teaches us three key factors in the battle between journeys and destinations.
First of all, his ministry teaches us to embrace the moment that you are in right now. There are going to be times in your life where you may feel as if you have been in the desert for forty days and forty nights, as Jesus was. I’ve been there, and I will probably be there many more times throughout my lifetime. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still embrace it. Instead of letting it destroy you, let it be a time of growth. The thing about journeys is that they get really hard at times. When journeys become difficult, it is easy to switch our focus to the destination. However, let me offer you another perspective. Often times, when we look back on a difficult time in life, we can see where we have grown. Whether or not we realize it, we grow within our journeys. So we should embrace them, even when they’re hard. You may be going through a really difficult semester of school. Embrace the knowledge that you are gaining. You may have just lost of loved one. Embrace the love and comfort that Jesus provides to you. You may be struggling in your relationships. Embrace the lessons that will be learned on how to face relationship issues in the future. The journey of life wasn’t meant to be easy. Those Celtic Christians probably faced many difficult times within their journey; however, the whole point of their pilgrimage was to do it all with God. They embraced the difficult and put their trust in the God that they knew would always be by their side.
Secondly, Jesus’ ministry tells us that the destination is going to bring troubles of its own. He knew what his destination was going to bring. He knew that it would change the whole trajectory of our lives, but he also knew it would cause him an enormous amount of pain. Unlike Jesus, we don’t know what our destination entails, even as much as we like to think we do. The destination may look wonderful right now, but we need to be honest with ourselves. We never know what life is going to bring. Our future might be headed in one direction for a second and then go a complete different direction the next second. We are setting ourselves up for disappointment by only being people set on the destination. For example, going into college, I had expectations of what all it would entail when, in fact, it was completely different than what I had expected. So why live from destination to destination? We should just enjoy the moment we’re in. We need to quit acting like we know what tomorrow is going to bring. Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Tomorrow will bring it’s own troubles. Just focus on the journey you’re on right now.
Thirdly, even though we need to enjoy our journey, we can look forward to the destination. I spent the whole last point telling you how important the journey is, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look forward to our destination. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he focused on the journey. He healed people. He taught people. He loved each and every person he encountered. But he was also getting ready for the day where he would be able to save all people from their sins. He always had the destination in mind, and throughout his life, he was preparing for it. It’s good for us to work towards our destination, but we don’t need to get too caught up in our destination to where we’re distraught if it doesn’t go as we had planned. A good balance between the two will help us to be more content within our walk of life and our walk of faith. A good balance will allow us to enjoy the current moment, work hard for our future, and be okay when everything doesn’t go the way we planned.
I really want you to reflect on your life right now. Are you always set on the destination or are you often focused on the journey? Or do you feel like you are both destination AND journey focused? This balance in our lives is way bigger than one might think. Depending on what you are focused on truly does change everything. In that case, we want to be focused on the things in life that bring us closer to God and closer to having true joy embedded within us.
Food for thought – maybe if we weren’t always completely focused on the destination, we would take more time to feed our spirit. Maybe we would take more time to spend with our Creator.
Let’s take this journey together.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11