The Journey

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  Hebrews 11:8

There is a difference between an adventure and a quest. An adventure is a there and back again experience or story. It’s an exciting thing you choose. You go and have your adventures, and you have all your thrills, and it spices up your life. Then you come home again, and you pick your life up again where it left off.

A quest is not something you choose; it comes to you. You sense a requirement. You’re called to it because of what’s involved, and you never come back from a quest. In a quest you either die for the quest, or if you do come back, you’re so changed you never, in a sense, come back. You’re never the way you were. You’re changed so radically.

In the way I have described the difference between an adventure and a quest—Christianity is not an adventure; it is a quest. It’s not there and back again. It’s not like, “I want to have some fun. I want to enrich my life.”

Christianity is a quest. God says, “Go! You’re going to be radically changed. Don’t ask me whether or not what I’m about to do will fit into your agenda. Christianity is a whole new agenda. Don’t say, ‘How is this going to enrich my life?’ Christianity is a whole new life.” What does it mean to set out on this journey? It means to go, not knowing where you’re going.

The life of journeying with God becomes a primary image in the Bible for what the life of faith is like. The Christian journey is all about faith. It’s all about hearing God in the Scriptures and responding—even if you, like Abraham, are not entirely sure where you are headed.

Because as you follow Jesus, you can’t fit your Christian life into your agenda for life. He refuses to be an add-on. Or as I heard one person say, “If Jesus is the Son of God, creator of the universe—you don’t make him your assistant in life. He is not a junior partner in your firm. He is not a co-manager in your shop. He is King.”

Walking with Jesus gives you a new agenda for life. It sends you in a new direction. Walking with Jesus is a journey where our entire lives are re-directed by God’s grace. It’s about faith.

But we don’t exist for ourselves. We exist for others; to be dispensers of God’s grace to those who are not in the forever family yet.

I want to be the kind of person that doesn’t retreat from the world. I want to be more like first responders, who run in when others are running out—I want to be a man that is running into the burning building of our culture. I am for this world. I love what God loves and He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.

As I think about this ancient story I see that God graces Abraham, failure that he is, and will continue to show himself to be, and yet God stays faithful to his children who turn out to be just as flawed as he is, and God graces them one-by-one. And on down the line through the centuries, until when you look at the first chapter of Matthew in the New Testament we see, in the family tree of Jesus Christ Himself, that our Lord is called a “Son of Abraham.”

And in that “son of Abraham” God would explode His blessing, life, and abundance on the entire cosmos. The Son of Abraham lives for us, suffers for us, and then dies for us. He takes upon Himself our curse so that we can have the blessing of the With-God life. Because of the call of grace and the sacrifice of Jesus—we have the possibility of being restored to our true vocation of being the humans God imagined when He created Eden.

Following the journey of faith with Jesus might, at times, feel as if you don’t know where you are going. You might not know where you will end up. You might find yourself in the undiscovered country. You may not always know where you are going but you will never be lost.

In the Fellowship of the Ring, shortly after the hobbit Frodo Baggins is called to carry the ring that will undo the forces of darkness that threatens his world, there’s a moment in the story in which he is staying at an inn and feeling the weight of his mission—he is terrified at the journey ahead of him. And while he is at this inn he receives a letter from Gandalf the Gray, the wise old wizard, where Gandalf tells him of a long promised King named Aragorn who will wind up overthrowing the forces of darkness bringing healing to the land.

20161015_090214He tells Frodo about Aragorn by means of a little poem:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

That is a stunning picture of what Jesus does for us. Jesus sparks the fire of God’s love out of the ashes of our death. Jesus bursts God’s light into our shadows. Jesus, the King of the universe, becomes crownless, broken, and rejected so that you and I can be blessed and graced by God.

So, if you follow Jesus it may seem at times that you wander in life, but you will never be lost.