You’ve likely heard the common saying, “Life is not about the destination; it’s about the journey,” or some variation thereof. It may be somewhat cliche, and to an extent, I think it sets up an unnecessary either/or situation. From a Christian perspective, I life is very much about a journey and a destination. Scripture speaks of life as a sojourn (see especially Hebrews 11, 13), but it’s a journey headed to a specific destination. As Christians, we yearn for an eternal home with our Creator, where crying, mourning, and pain are no longer a part of our existence. And yet, Scripture is very clear that whether or not we reach that destination is directly tied to the way in which we travel our earthly lives.
I appreciate the journey metaphor as I look back on my own life as a believer. I am still relatively young, but what a journey it has been! It has been characterized by exhilarating peaks and depressing valleys. Seemingly, there have been few straight stretches where I could confidently see what was coming next, and a lot of twists and turns where the future was impossible to predict.
Interestingly, I also can see how my faith itself has changed over the years. That shouldn’t be surprising—as a Christian I believe (and as a minister, I teach!) that God’s Spirit indwells His people and works to sanctify them, and, furthermore, that Scripture is something we study not just for information, but for transformation: God’s word is living and active, after all (Hebrews 4.12). That is not to say that I have reached a point of exceptional maturity in my faith, or that I have everything figured out. I certainly don’t, and remember, the point of this post is to emphasize the journey aspect of faith, so I in no way want to give the impression that I have somehow arrived. I haven’t.
And yet, in hindsight, I can see how far I have traveled. I can remember (with significant chagrin) the degree to which, as a college freshman, I felt that I had things pretty well figured out. I can remember having long discussions deep into the night with my roommate (who also happened to be my brother-cousin, a made-up category which best describes our relationship) where I would dogmatically assert all kinds of things. In one particularly cringeworthy conversation, I confidently declared that someone who committed suicided was automatically lost—an assertion I made with the vast knowledge and experience of an 18 year-old and with no biblical authority whatsoever! My roommate gently pushed back against my declaration, but at the time, I did not have “ears to hear.”
As I have aged and hopefully become wiser and grown deeper in my faith (see above), I have changed my mind on some things and I have found that their are fewer religious doctrines that are deeply important to me, but that the ones that are have become more important than ever. Or, put in other words, not everything is worth fighting for, but some things are worth dying for.
In terms of my own faith journey, I do not know what the future holds. Based on the past, I bet there will be thrilling highs, crushing lows, and unexpected turns along the way. I expect that there will be changing perspectives, reconsidered positions, and core truths that do not change, but are gradually driven deeper and deeper. I pray that there will be increasing wisdom and spiritual maturity, and I hope—in the biblical sense of the word as confident expectation—that my journey of faith will lead to the destination which Christians have been seeking for thousands of years.