Updated: Jun 26, 2021
Some years ago Nissan had and ad on television with the catchphrase “life is a journey, enjoy the ride”. There is something about this phrase that stirs me.
The first one is obviously the simple fact that life is a journey and not a destination. I never looked at life in that way. I never consciously realised how uncomfortable I was with the concept of being on a journey. I did not (and to some extent still don’t) like unfinished business. I need to be able to define the destinations and outcomes I want to arrive at and that I desire. If I can’t do that then I am very uncomfortable. I now know that the discomfort stems from not being in control and having to release control by choosing to trust the goodness of Someone Else. As long as I could be the one who could define my point of arrival and being able to measure my progress, then journeying towards that was not a problem.
The ultimate change in my thinking came when I realised that God Himself - the Blessed Trinity of Papa, Son and Comforter, the eternal Godhead in their ecstatic, joyous, self-emptying and self-giving relationship with one another, in their infinite care for every single human being by name in our individual uniqueness, in their non-judgmental understanding of our folly when we chose to abandon the embrace of absolute oneness that was ours by God’s creational intent- is my destination. AND I CANNOT CONTROL HIM. There is no recipe or seven easy steps, there is simply the choice to trust His existence and His goodness.
My good friend, Stephan, once wrote the following for me:
….this journey has a starting point, but no end. It has a destination, but you will not reach it in this life….. The journey will take you to green pastures, along still waters, into the valley of the shadow of death and through it to the other side where you will realise that mercy and grace have been in pursuit of your heart all the time. On this road, through every circumstance, God promises you that you will get to know him, come closer to him, learn how much he loves you and how his love can flow through you so abundantly that laying down your life will be a joy…..For God himself is the destination. Who we become when we realise that we are already one with Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit, is who we are really called to be. As we participate in the eternal dance of love, something supernatural happens.
I am at the stage in life where I qualify for Joel’s statement you old men shall dream dreams. Some time ago I dreamt that I was walking through a city. I knew that I was on my way to a destination, but did not know exactly where it was, I simply knew with absolute certainty that it was a very real one. I walked the streets of the city and I had a walking stick in my hand, but the stick was actually a broom, an instrument of cleaning. I journeyed in the direction of where I though the destination would be, but the road had many unexpected turns and hills that seemed to take me away from where I thought the destination was. Amazingly I did not give up, but carried on. I got to a stage where I thought “surely, this house on the hill is the one.” In my heart of hearts I knew it was not so, but I now wanted to arrive. I turned in and climbed a flight of stairs to the front door and as I was climbing I realised how wrong I was. When I got to the top I came to my senses and turned around. There was a woman waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. Whenever I dream about a woman she always represents Godly wisdom to me. She was very gentle with me and understanding of me as she said “you knew that was not your destination, didn’t you” and sent me on my way again.
I want to conclude my musings this time around by sharing a story by an unknown author that I read some years ago. The story is entitled “A Bike Ride with Jesus”:
At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there, sort of like the president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn't know him. But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don't know just when it was that He suggested that we change places, but life has not been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring but predictable ... It was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds, and it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal." I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are You taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I say, "I'm scared," He'd lean back and touch my hand. He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance, and joy. They gave me gifts to take on my journey, my Lord's and mine. And we're off again. He said, "Give the gifts away, they're extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light. I did not trust Him at first, to be in control of my life, I thought He would wreck it; But He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten scary passages. I'm learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ. And when I'm sure I just can't do anymore, He smiles and says ... "Pedal."