Today, I have been thinking about the continual need for spiritual growth. This is partially due to the fact that the word “journey” comes to mind when we are talking about Lent. We are not people who live in a journey culture. We live in a destination culture. Our lives are not spent appreciating the view, but are fully focused on the road ahead as we seek to achieve our final destination. Of course, this often leads us to miss opportunities to witness beauty and wonder.
This is not a new problem. The human condition of sin has skewed our view of the world since the fall. Adam and Eve couldn’t see the garden for the tree. The people of Israel couldn’t see the blessings of God in the midst of the wilderness, all they wanted was to get to the promised land. Perhaps spending some time appreciating the view, may pay off dividends in our spiritual life.
So just how can we begin to reorient out lives from destination thinking to sojourners on a wonderful journey? I think there are a few specific things we can do that just might help.
- Get out of the car and get on the bus. We are used to being in control of our journey. We get in the car and make our way on to the road. This is also true of our spiritual journey. We want to be the one who has the wheel and is the driving force. Truth be told, we aren’t the ones who are driving. We would benefit from reminding ourselves that we are called to be those who are in the back seat of the bus appreciating the wonder that is outside. Have you ever had that experience where you’re the passenger in a car going down a road you often travel and suddenly you are shocked to see a new business or building that seemly popped up over night? Usually, the person who you’re traveling with chimes in and says, “that’s been there for years.” What are we missing by trying to drive our spiritual journey rather than let Christ be our tour guide?
- Stop and smell the roses. We have lost the ability to appreciate and enjoy the simplest of joys. Our culture has built an expectation that our experiences must be greater and more elaborate. This is a bogus presumption. We don’t always need to be perusing the next great encounter. I will readily admit that this is a growth area in my spiritual life. I have become by nature a dreamer. I look at things and want to figure out how to make them bigger and better. This often stands in the way of me fully comprehending the blessings God has brought into my life.
- Learn to read a map and prepare for the journey. Many of us are dependant on our GPS unit to get to our destination. How many times has your GPS failed to get signal just when you’re at a critical turn and find yourself with no clue which way to turn? If we must be in the drivers seat, we need to rekindle the skill of reading the map and doing the advance work of preparing for our journey. The time to look at the map isn’t when we are lost, but is instead prior to the trip so that we have the path plotted out in our minds before we hit the road. In our spiritual journey we have two ways to do this work. The map we have is God’s Word found in Scripture. Our journey would be richer if we took the time to read the Word and seek direction from God. We also need to prepare for the journey by engaging in prayer. Our way will only be clear and our eyes will only see what God wants us to see if we seek God’s leading in prayer.
- Get traveling partners. Unlike may people’s commutes, our spiritual journey cannot occur in solitary isolation. A journey is more fun when we have companions to share it with. Spiritual traveling companions help us to see things we miss, carry our bags when they are too heavy and can help navigate when we are a bit lost. Although our culture has fostered an individual spiritually, this is not our heritage. We are people who need the community around us.
Who are your spiritual companions?