Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Long Journey to Somewhere

A couple of years ago our family, encountering a detour, set out on this journey, away from familiar territory, away from the destination we had originally planned. We didn't know where the destination of this new journey would be, but we felt confident that we would recognize it when we got there.

There would be clear signs like this:

"You have crossed the border into your Promised Land."
"Your Destiny just ahead!"
"Welcome, grace and mr grace, This is It."
"You are now entering The Place Where You Belong."

The map wasn't very clear, and sometimes along the way we had doubts.

"Are you sure you know where we're going?"
"Yeah, this looks familiar."
"Nothing out here looks like I expected it would."
"Look at this, others said we would go this way."

And so we would continue on.

Some territory we knew we would pass through. There was no way to our destination except getting past the valley of bitterness. Thankfully, we succeeded in getting to the other side. We recognized the scenery of detox because we heard about what it looked like.

You know that sense of anticipation you get when you realize you must be getting close to your destination? Well, we've been traveling awhile, we must be close, right? And you crest that final hill expecting to see your destination laid out before you...

"Does this look familiar?"
"Nope, this isn't it."
"Well then where the heck are we?"
"Um, I don't know."


Lily said...

I hear ya, sister.

Great post. Insight as usual.

Pastor Astor said...

I think if you look back you will see that you have been in the right place for a long time, Grace. You are in transition. This is a place where the scenery changes from day to day, a place where what is constant stands out as different, instead of that which changes. A few of theese are:
Your husband - the two of you have written and lived a story that is yours and yours alone. There is nothing ordinary about it, it is unique, no one could replace either of you without the story changing beyong recognition.
The place transition has changed you both, but you are still you, only smarter, only more mature.

Jesus - no matter if He feels present or not, He has been there for the ride. He has led you, and continues to do so. When layer after layer of doctrine, misrepresenteation and church dust is removed - not from Him, but from your hearts, you can see him more and more clearly. The one who fills the universe is never really distant. Even his "nonpresence" is a presence with a purpose. The present Jesus pushes us forward, the distant Jesus motivates us to keep going by our longing for Him.

Will there be a place to settle down? Maybe. But even that place will be a place of change, a place of growth, a place of further development. Constant change is here to stay.

The journey has a goal, but that place isn´t even created yet. I you want a church, be a church to others.

grace said...

I left you a comment at your place.

Pastor Astor,
Your words were full of life for me. I hope those few words can express how deeply you touched my heart. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

KSG said...

It's all a journey isn't it?

I mean, how often has a group of believers journeyed together only to stop and camp at an oasis for a while because they needed to be refreshed?

And then build a house or two.

And then stop journeying.

But the journey doesn't stop does it? It just continues on without them.

If there's anything I've learned over the last few years it's that we're all invited to journey with God.

But how far is up to us.

Grace, it's funny that you would talk about journeying today... last night I started to develop a family blog so that family and friends can stay up to date on us, and one of the descriptions in my header is about journaling our adventure in it's unexpected turn.

Gary Means said...

Your description of the journey is right on target. It reminds me of Thomas Merton's famous prayer from Thoughts in Solitude. You've probably seen it. It starts with, "MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end."

The metaphor also reminds me of hikes with my kids when they were young. They would run off on "short cuts" which almost always led right back to the same trail or were dead ends. But the exercise was good for them. I think God watches me do the same, smiles, and thinks, "That's ok. the spiritual exercise is good for him."

L said...

I totally relate...

Pastor Astor said...

Dear Grace,
the pain of travelling in uncharted terrain is that it is a lot harder to define progress. Think about all the times the people of Israel and their ancestors erected altars. That is a very real way to know that you have moved on.

The valley of bitterness and detox are two of those places for you, and Grace, altars where erected, some things you had brought with you burned there. You have been there - and moved on. At theese times, when the way forward seems endless, pointless and lacking destination; turn around and look at the string of pearls behind you - the line of altars you have built.

In this specific time of dispair, you happened to stumble upon an altar of mine!

I have dispaired too. Last time, what got me back on track, was reading what you had written!

Your altars also serves as waymarks for others.

Thank God for fellow travellers!

grace said...

I forgot, there isn't a destination! I do have to resist that tendency to want to settle, nestle in, and get comfortable. Thanks for the reminder to continue journeying.

I loved the metaphor about the hikes with your kids and the reminder that with God, it's all good, even the rabbit trails.

Hello to "I said." :)

So true pastor astor. It's much easier to recognize the path in hindsight. I'm reminded that we are usually only given enough light to see the next step.