Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reflections on Life as a Journey

Life is a journey. This is not news. Yet to apply it to the walk of faith seems to come as a surprise to each generation.

As we sat around our living room with the College and Career group looking at the Scriptures and trying to understand how they relate to our lives today, Julie spoke up. “I never realized it before. Our Christian life is a journey with God. That’s cool!”

I recalled the day many years earlier, when I had come to that understanding. It seemed to free me to grow. It meant that I did not need to have all the answers as a Christian, but I could discover them as I journeyed.

The journey has been identified with the faith pilgrimage throughout history. The classic example in our English culture is John Bunyan’s allegory written from his prison cell, Pilgrim’s Progress.

The book speaks of the pilgrimage of Christian and his companions as they journey to the Celestial City. My assumption, perhaps from my evangelical background, has been that the journey begins when one embraces the Faith. Now I think differently.

My shift in thinking relates to the image of God that has become stronger for me on my journey. I now see God as an all-knowing yet all-loving parent standing with arms outstretched, ready to embrace all who will come. His invitation extends to all humanity.

When we are born there is within us the desire to turn towards that embrace. That for me is the meaning of the words of wisdom in Ecclesiastes that speak of God placing eternity in our hearts. The journey begins when life begins, but it may sometimes follow a seemingly incomprehensible route. There are occasions when it seems that this route is heading far from the waiting loving embrace. Yet those times can herald the U-turn of a wandering soul.

We do not travel the journey alone. There are many companions on our route. At times we choose those companions and at other times they seem to be messengers sent to encourage us on our way.

Wherever we are on our life journey when we choose to embrace the Faith, we are gifted with a companion. This Companion, who has been called The Comforter accompanies us continually to our final destination. Our accompaniment includes not only a sense of security but also the hope and encouragement we need as we travel. Without this divine companionship we would never make it home to the loving embrace that awaits us.