Travelling Well

Human life is often compared to a journey. Various large and small decisions are seen as taking a particular path or travelling down a different road. Many have found it helpful to speak of the Christian life in these terms too, as, for example, in the popular hymn ‘One more step along the world I go’.

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If we are to think in this way, it seems to me that we need to face a couple of troubling questions: what is our destination?; and are there any genuinely wrong turns?

There are those who would resist those questions. The journey is an end in itself, they might say. I do understand – I used to enjoy our long drives down through France to visit my parents in the deep South West as much as the time we spent there. But I would have liked them less if we’d never arrived, and I did like them very much less when we got lost, as once we did when spending nearly five hours driving around Rouen looking for our hotel!

The destination does matter, and so does the identification of those paths that really will take us off course.

As Christians, we believe that our final destination is heaven, where our relationship with God will finally be made perfect. Our journey through life should be shaped by that. We live, and we pray, that we may be ‘fitted for heaven’. There are paths that we can take which will help us in that goal, and others which will hinder us.

One of the most tempting paths is the one that promises power. All of us spend a lot of time feeling frustrated. Why is it so hard to get things done? If only we could get people to do what we want them to do! We believe, of course, that we will only ever use our power to achieve good things, just as we believe in our own ability to judge between what is good and what is not.

This is a path that Jesus relentlessly warns against. “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all,” he says. He underlined this on the night before he died by taking the most disgusting, most menial job of all – washing his disciples feet.

What we must all understand is that the main task of our Christian lives isn’t to get things done. Productivity, achievement and status are not holy categories. The main task, by contrast, is the one that the Holy Spirit accomplishes within us, if we will only allow it. We are in the business of seeing human lives transformed by divine grace, starting with our own.

May God bless you all,