Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Journey Completed

The Bible is full of people who are on a journey. Most notably in Genesis, we find Abraham willingly on a journey to an unknown land and then later his great grandson Joseph goes much less willingly on yet another journey. In Exodus, all of Israel is on a journey – a journey begun by one generation and completed by another. In the book of Ruth, Naomi is on a journey with her daughter-in-law, and the books of Samuel, Chronicles and Kings are replete with the journeys of Samuel, Saul and David, not to mention the ark of the covenant which also goes on a journey of its own. And of course in the New Testament, the Gospels are the story of Jesus’ journey to the cross, Acts tells of the journeys of the apostles, and the letters of Paul provide insight into his missionary journeys.

It seems that the people of God are forever engaged in a journey of one type or another. And so as modern believers, we ought to expect that we too, will forever be on a journey. And in fact we are.

As Paula and I come to the completion of this part of our journey, and are preparing for the next leg, we find much to reflect on. For instance, we have found that every leg of the journey, every mile, yes even every step, is an important one. Some steps seem saturated in monumental achievement – such as that final step that crosses the finish line, or that last push that reaches the peak, or that final pledge that completes our budget. But we are reminded that that last step is but the culmination of many steps that preceded it. Giant leaps always ride the coattails of little steps. And as we look back over the last year or so that we have been itinerating, we realize that there have been many, many little steps, but no insignificant ones. We have learned that we cannot measure kingdom progress by the size of a congregation, or by the amount of an offering. There is only one criteria that matters, and that is – was God present in our efforts? And if we can answer yes to that question, then we can log that day as a step forward. Anything less, is standing still, or worse, stepping back.

We have also learned to seek the constancy of God in an ever morphing environment. One Sunday morning it’s a suit and tie with the songs of Bill Gaither and Fanny Crosby, and the next its blue jeans and a tie-die and the music of Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin. In Pittsburgh they put French fries in your salad, and in Wichita it’s Jello (…but hey, when you’ve eaten fried termites…). Our home was wherever we happened to be, and we’ve rarely spent more than three days in a row in the same bed. We became expert packers and unpackers. And yet amidst all these many changes we found rest in Him who never changes.

And now the journey continues, on to another continent. And there we will surely be met by more challenges, more change, more strange food (likely of the many-legged variety). And what we find at this time, is that we cannot look forward, nor even move forward, without looking back and realizing that there are many, many friends who share with us in this journey. It is certainly a paradox. Our journeys are both separate and one. In the wonderful world of Christian brotherhood, we who walk apart, also walk together. What we find is that for a time and for a season, our paths converge and we, in the course of discovering our own destinies find ourselves walking hand in hand with fellow travelers who are in the process of discovering their destinies. That is the nature of a kingdom journey. We each walk a path of God’s choosing, but we never walk it in solitude or independence. And so, we want to say to you – fellow journeyer, thanks for the company! Thanks for the shared meals, the testimonies, the words of encouragement. Thanks for your support. We have truly enjoyed the walk! And until our paths should converge again, know that you are in our thoughts, prayers and hearts always!