What is the purpose of a road? This seemingly simple question can lead a person into a profound truth about themselves and others. The answer to this question will shed light on how one views relationships, activities, religion, others, circumstances and life. When asked this question the average person in America would say “the purpose of a road is to take me where I want to go”. The emphasis is on a desired destination. When we meet someone along the road on a vacation, our questions usually reflect this: “Where are you going?” and “Where are you from?” If one is on the road they are headed somewhere otherwise why would they be on a road? When the purpose of the road is getting one to a specific destination then one’s life mirrors this truth.
We have become people who are about getting somewhere, finishing, completing, and accomplishing something. We are people on the move, the go, always with a destination in mind, a goal to accomplish and a way to quantify our pursuits. We are not about climbing a mountain but getting to the top, not about going to school but getting a degree, not about walking but about exercise, health…no matter what we do we are always on our way to something…to somewhere else. The value is not in the doing or the process but in the end, the quantified product – whatever that may be. This can translate into viewing people, circumstances, and opportunities like “so many roads”. Our question – our concern becomes- where is this person, circumstance, opportunity, group going to take me and is this the place I desire to go?
As Christians this mentality shapes much of our Christian experience. We view the Bible as something to read through, our prayers as a task to be completed, the church as a place to network, God as a help to success, health, prosperity…each as a means to an end – a road taking us to where we want to go. If by some chance we do not arrive at our desired destination then we abandon the road for another with hopes that it will be the one that takes us where we want to go. We look forward to arriving at the place where we can experience success, happiness,God.
However; there is another way to view a road and another way to view life. This other way is to see the road as the place of journey – to see and discover life in the midst of the journey. Even as I write this, something inside me asks – a journey to where? That is the whole point…it is just a journey and life is discovered while on the journey. It is not a journey to – it is a journey along a path, living and finding life in each event, circumstance, person, encounter on the journey. The road is not about getting anywhere; it is about providing an opportunity to journey. This transforms one’s view of the stuff of life…it is learning not the getting of the degree, the climb, not the arrival at the top, the person, not how they can or cannot benefit me. The circumstances and events of one’s life are new roads to experience life in the here and now. Life and God are not found at the desired destination but are lived and discovered in the present location. The road is transformed from a busy thoroughfare into a pathway which invites the traveler to slow down, savor, embrace the moment…stop and smell, touch and experience the roses.
I think this view of road is in harmony with how Jesus lived. Jesus seems to meander through out the country of Judea without any desired destination in mind. He was about being true to the will of God, even His words to the disciples seem to convey this: “follow me”; but where are we going…”follow me”.
We are invited on a journey of knowing and experiencing the divine in the immediate circumstance of our life…God is not a destination we travel to. God is an ever present reality in which we live, move, and have our being. As we journey, God is with us. The question is, are we present to our ever-present companion as we journey? The Bible, church, and prayer give us unique opportunities to experience God in the midst of our journey, they are not a means to an end but doorways through which we can re-connect with God as our co-journeyer, now, in this place, with this circumstance, with this person. It is not about the destination. It is all about the journey.
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