I love adventure and discovery! I especially enjoy it when our family has an opportunity to vacation to some fresh destination. When a long awaited trip draws nigh, our home fills with that effervescent anticipation of seeing new vistas and experiencing new adventures off somewhere in this grand land of ours.
One of our favorite vacation habits, (having grown up in the densely trafficked Washington D.C. metro area) is to head out on the Interstate highway very early in the morning, well before the sun breaks the sky, and hopefully before the rush hour traffic forces the first leg of our trip into a frustrating crawl. Getting ahead of the commuter masses allows us to escape the city’s logjam and launch our trip with highway freedom — you know … wind on the face, open highway ahead, car zipping along unimpeded. That’s the best feeling – getting out and away! The morning crisp air adds to our delight, even while the family is warmly nestled in the back seat between fluffy pillows and blankets. Before we put the peddle-to-the-metal, packing lists are checked and double checked, and prayers are sent upwards. Then off we go to … well … who knows what lies ahead! That’s the fun of adventure! We’re off to new discoveries!
Journeys are thrilling! We get to leave behind our mundane work and tired routines; new horizons, hopefully with lively activities, are set in our sights.
It’s wonderful when things actually work that way. It’s thrilling when a vacation goes as planned.
But let’s not kid ourselves! We all know that some of our best laid travel plans hardly go as planned. Traveling is not always smooth sailing. Stuff happens! There are bumps in the road – literally. Sometimes the car acts up. Often essential items are forgotten at home. Road construction zones with their dreaded orange signs posted on both sides cause wearisome joy-draining delays. Then arises those familiar complaints from the natives in the back seat, “How much longer, Dad? Are we there yet?”
Even when everything does go smoothly, you arrive, and it is not exactly like the website describes it. There are other people there, and they are not all nice. As if by some divine appointment, Mr. & Mrs. Obnoxious and their ruffian family bound across your pathway just as you reach that anticipated relaxing beach cabana. Ugh! Unfortunately lots can, and often does, go wrong! Adjustments are needed on the fly. But, hey! That’s what goes with adventures. We can’t control everything, and even if we could, it would hardly be an adventure. Right? Some things you just have to tackle along the way!
There is a lot to learn about life by taking journeys. I have long wanted to write a helpful and thoughtful blog on faith and how it connects with the journey of life. There are so many helpful parallels which should help us talk more about faith. Too often discussions about faith run into arguments before those in the conversation stop and consider what we all hold in common. Life! Life itself is a journey of sorts … one we all share – a long, sometimes exciting, sometimes arduous journey!
You might not have thought of it that way, but our lives really are a shared adventure. Just think about the parallels … Life has a launch date (birth), a long road to travel (decades of living) and a final destination (death or what lies beyond the grave). And everyone travels life’s road; yet paradoxically no one’s road looks exactly the same. There are similarities, but always differences.
Furthermore, everyone travels at the same pace, for no one can speed up time or slow down the clock. What’s more … no one stops on this journey! Everyone just keeps moving in the same direction – forward, because no one has yet figured out how to turn around and head backwards. Onward we all travel down the uncharted road of life!
So how does faith fit into life? Can it? Should it? Is it helpful?
I think it can be.
If you are a thoughtful reader, over several blogs I hope to lay out both the the immense blessings and potential pitfalls of faith for life’s journey. That’s right! There are both blessings and pitfalls. Only the discerning person can tell the difference. That’s why faith is something we should talk about without getting into a fruitless argument.
Consider that no one starts life’s adventure with a life-map or written guarantee about what lies ahead. (At least I haven’t heard of anyone who has! If they had it, I guess that person could predict the future!) In fact, no one on their own can see around the next bend in their own lives much less over the mountains and to the very end of time. I know this because recently I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. No one in my family saw that coming. I am not sure we had any way of predicting it.
So life is a journey! Everyone of us is forced to start and continue our journeys on new terrain – a path we have never trod before. The path proceeds through desserts and canyons, so to say, meadows and forests, plains and rolling hills, steep climbs and swift downhills, swamps and marshes. Already you can see, this requires some kind of faith because full sight of the road ahead is impossible for any of us.
As we noted, you don’t get to rush the journey either. Everyone must move along life’s pathway step-by-step, mile-by-mile, scene-by-scene as if by some plan we are supposed to consider each segment of our lives and learn from our individual journeys. With all due respect to the physicists, there are no time-travel machines yet. No wormhole has yet to be entered. It only exists in the sci-fi imagination. There are no DeLorean time machines to transport us to 1955 or forward to 2055. No one is allowed to jump or pole-vault backwards or ahead. In fact, it seems expressly forbidden.
Then too, reminding us just how serious life is, there are no exits posted along the way. Think about that! What kind of a journey has no exits until you get to the end? Life! Your Life! My life!
It gets you thinking, doesn’t it?
Admittedly there remains mystery to this thing we call life. There are moments when we pause and wonder what life is all about, what the final destination might be, and if the journey is really worth the effort. Let’s be honest. Life’s journey can be rugged and disappointing. My guess is that many of you have conflicting emotions about your lives and the direction you are headed. Some people hate their lives, but should they? Should they turn course dramatically or stay the course and see what unfolds? Other people love their lives, but should they? They can’t keep their lives forever! Is loving your life foolish or is it making the best of what cards you have been dealt?
It is often observed that life does not seem fair. Some of our journeys will prove to be short, steep, and rocky. Others will be long, flat, and meandering. Some routes lead to what seems to be an off-road, swampy, mud pit through which one must trudge with great labor. Other paths seem to send people rolling along carelessly and unimpeded down Merry Lane. Why the differences?
Some paths end tragically in violent rock slides or by hurling off a cliff! Others sail along Shady Lane for miles. That does not seem fair! Some highways lead to a confusing dead end. Some roads wind up steep switchbacks ascending higher and higher with no relief. Is that planned or are all these paths meaningless happen-chance?
You may have noticed too that as we travel along, the journey changes us. We don’t remain the same. The events we face influence and mold us. Consider your own life so far. Some encounters probably scared you to the core of your being. Then there were those special events which captured your imagination and laid hold of your soul. There are some periods you never want to repeat.
Most of us will face at least some unexpected twists, difficult hurdles, or perplexing forks in the road.
Because of all these life-journey realities, if we are honest, we should see that we need help along the way. It should be obvious that to journey well we need a proper guidance system. We also need reliable protection and proper traveling gear. Most of all we need a ticket guaranteeing our final destination – to make sure the long journey ahead proves worth it in the end.
What I am proposing is that for life, that helpful gear is a beautiful, reliable commodity called … Faith! Faith is that trust and confidence in a Source who knows life’s purpose and mysteries, and can guide you where you need to go. No matter who you are, faith is needed for the long journey ahead. Wise and happy is the person who discovers faith early, and brings this special traveling companion along for all of life’s encounters. Especially well off is he or she who possesses faith in the end.
However, not all faiths are built the same. Not all are beneficial! Travelers beware!
This blog is about faith – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Faith has its powers, benefits, advantages, and saving graces, but it also has its misunderstandings, misstatements, misleadings, and misuses.
Faith is a needed dynamic on the road of life, but many do not yet recognize that, and others are not aware of the dangers inherent in some faiths.
So next we will continue to explore the amazing dynamics of faith followed by future chapters where we hope to explore some of the deterrents or roadblocks to faith. Eventually we will get to some descriptions of beneficial faith and the practice of faith.
So read, ponder, and enjoy “Faith for Life’s Journey”. My prayer of faith is that you discover faith, grow in faith, and become dauntless in your practice of true faith. There truly is no issue you will face with farther reaching consequences!