“Look Hannah! See the cows? What do the cows say?”
“Look to the right! See the horses? What do horses say?”
Even the brothers, from six to eight, join in the fun with their two year old sister. And a trip is made fun.
This is just a small example of what may happen as we load up in the van and travel to the grocery store, the library, the Church Building, to Texas. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s three minutes or three hours or three days – we want to make the journey just as fun as the destination. This was the message last night as we wrapped up Chapter Six in The Story with the Church. (Notes will come sometime soon, but this message came straight to my heart and head from my Father. Today, I just wanted to share this gift from my time with Dad.)
Dad – God – brought to mind my own journey, and I must admit what I do not want to – I am an Israelite. I have been in slavery/hard situations, I have cried out, and He has saved. I have grumbled about three days after such freedom, I have moaned to even go back to the way things were, and I have wandered. I have been provided for; and yet, I have complained about variety, the time it’s taking, the lack of my own instant gratification. I have worshiped the One True God only to be found at the bottom of a mountain bowing to idols my hands have wrought. I have been in the backseat complaining and grumbling, and God has disciplined…and shown mercy, patience, grace, and love more than I even know. In fact, along the way, He has been trying to get me to look out the window and see the “cows” and the “horses”. He has been pointing to the mountains and the sunrise and the sparrows. He has been saying, “See that person? Who is she? Do you know her?” He has been urging me to open my eyes to the beautiful needs right where I’m at, not just the ones that were or are to be. I have looked for dirty feet to wash in a different time or place, and He is bending me low, now, to see the ones right before me. I have wanted to jump to the “Grand Finale” – the destination, and He is taking the scenic route so that I might see! That I might not miss a single thing or person or lesson along the journey. He knows. He is Wise.
God knows that the way to build relationship with Him is to go on a trip with Him. He is not a genie who enjoys “poofing” love and relationship into existence. He is a Father, the best Father, and He wants pure, real, sweet communion with His children. So, He does what He’s been doing since Eden; He walks with us. And along the way, He says “Look over there! Do you see?” Sometimes He stops, and we get out and stay awhile. Other times, maybe times when I’d like to stop and stay awhile, He presses on and says, “Not this time.” “Not yet.” I can be heard in the backseat sighing big and trying not to complain but probably letting it slip out. Still, He takes us on, and me, if I’m in the back pouting with my head down or choosing to sleep the time away with eyes closed, I miss it. The journey. It is still happening, and others around me may be wide awake to all there is. They may be having a good ole’ time with God, but me, I’m sulking in the back about what I think I’ve missed. And in my “misery,” I am truly missing out.
There. That is it. My life, on and off, for the last however long I can remember. From the time I was little, all I can ever remember thinking was, “I just can’t wait to get out…to move on…to do this…” Rarely have I been all in. Rarely have I let myself enjoy the journey. I have almost put life into list form; crossing off one “to-do” after another. Especially when the journey has been hard and long and painful. When it has required I get out when I wanted to stay in or stay in when I wanted to get out. When the journey hasn’t gone according to my plans, I have sat in the back, closed by eyes, refused to look at anything He’s pointed out, and chosen to daydream about how I would like things to go. You know the thing about daydreaming? It doesn’t make for day-living. In fact, it steals. It steals my focus for where I’m at. It steals my desire to want to get up and out and do. It steals the blessings of my reality. Daydreaming only makes me happy in that mental-utopia, but when life jolts me awake, I have to leave that place. I have to see where I’m at, and because I have said “that is better than this,” I have cheated myself of blessings. I have looked around at where My Father has brought me, and I have declared it “not good.” Blasphemy! For has God ever made anything “not good?”
Every week I open up the next chapter in The Story, and I hear one and a half sermons on it. I lift my hands in worship and sing out my surrender of my will and my longing for “no other name but Jesus!” Every week I have been reminded how to really take the journey. Journey: an act, time, and process of traveling. This walk Home, this walk with The Father and with brothers and sisters, it is an action. It requires me to be active. I cannot sit idly in the backseat, dreaming my own dreams, and really experience all He has for me. What kind of faith just sits? (James 2:14-26) It requires time. Ahh, time. We call it 24 hours or weeks or months or years, but God, He is on no such schedule. Time is only relevant to Him in the word Now. You want to know how God keeps track of time? He keeps track of Now. You want to know how He lives His day. He lives Now. Where He’s at, when He’s there, He is living. He is not waiting for sometime; He is living in the right time – right Now. Finally, it requires me to be in the “process”…on the journey. There is no wiggling your nose to make things appear and disappear. There are rarely short-cuts. Remember, God wants relationship with His children, not just things done. He doesn’t want to just tell you what to do and then stand back to let you live your life. Dad, is in the car! Dad, is walking beside you. Dad, wants all the Nows He can get with you; so, maybe, He makes the journey longer than we like. Maybe He takes a turn we hadn’t planned. Maybe, the car breaks down and we spend time, not money we don’t have, working to take care of it…together. But that’s exactly the way He likes it – more Now’s with you! With me. He doesn’t even mind that some of the Now’s are hard because even in the hard, He gets to love on you. On me.
Last evening, with hands up and head bowed, I could hear the question, “Would you just do this for me? Would you live now…here…with me? Would you keep your eyes open for the blessings found in Now?” When we do that, when we live for Now, no matter where and when Now is, we never miss anything He desires to give us. If we live open-eyed, open-handed in every Now, we will always see what Dad is trying to show us. Never miss. Always see. Never miss Him! Always see Him! Now that’s life!
11 “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach. 12 It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ 13 It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’ 14 No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.
15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.
17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods,18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.
19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Deuteronomy 30:11-20 NLT