I was on a plane this week returning from a visit with family in Florida and found myself seated in the row behind a young family with two kids under the age of three. When we all stood up to deplane, both parents picked up a child…and diaper bags…and backpacks …and snack tote…and then picked up car seats and a collapsible stroller on the gangway…before they ever hit the baggage claim area. It made me tired just watching them.
Across the aisle was a businessman with one of those expensive pieces of carry-on luggage with a dozen clever pockets to handle a computer, business files, an extra shirt and tie, toiletries, and probably even a collapsible piece of gym equipment! He whipped it into the luggage bin as he boarded the plane and just as quickly pulled it down as soon as we were wheels down. He slipped up the aisle to the front of the cabin and stood patiently behind the flight attendant, before anyone else stood up to clog the aisle. Obviously, he had run the drill a hundred times and refined it to perfection.
I’m a traveler who falls somewhere in between the family and the businessman. I encumber myself with luggage full of extra clothes and supplies for every likely medical calamity and more reading material than I could possibly get through—just in case.
To me, the three of us are classic examples of how people not only take a trip but how we travel through life and manage our relationship with God.
The traveling family represents people whose lives are complicated—either by circumstances not of their choosing or because of choices that may or may not have carefully weighed. They are juggling a lot and hope to make it to their destination without everything crashing down on them.
The businessman prefers to be nimble. His focus is laser sharp, his goal is to be first to reach his destination, letting nothing deter him. His choices make his life less complicated and he likes it that way. His relationships suffer as a result.
People like me fall somewhere in between. We want to get to our destination on time and in one piece, but we struggle to find the balance between traveling light vs. making sure we have with us those people and things that matter.
I believe there’s another parallel–between the way we make the trip and how we’ll feel when we reach our destination.
When you reach the end of your life, will you look back and realize you were so burdened down by circumstances you failed to enjoy the journey or feel it was well spent? Was God along for the ride or did you figure you’d catch up with Him when you arrived?
If you identify with the businessman, do you want to look back on your life and realize your greatest accomplishment was your efficiency, a dazzling resume and a boatload of grownup toys? Did you factor in God on your journey or will you show up at the end of your life, hoping He’ll recognize you from some brief exchange you had forty years ago?
Finally, if you identify with the third example, have you been so preoccupied with being prepared and being in control and getting it right each step of the way, the trip hasn’t been much fun. You missed the wonder of all that was going on around you and the surprises God may have planned.
Jesus and His disciples were always on the road going somewhere. But they often lingered over a meal together or changed the route to check in on a friend. Jesus kept His ultimate destination in mind. Nevertheless, He was fully present every day to life, relishing all of it, in constant contact with His heavenly Father for course corrections as He went along.
My husband has an OnStar navigation system in his car since he travels all over the state as part of his job. OnStar maps his route from Point A to Point B and if he diverts from the route, an automated voice says, “You have left the planned route. Would you like assistance? Say yes or no.”
If you aren’t enjoying your journey through life, perhaps you’ve left the planned route—that is, the one God planned for you. Would you like assistance? Tell God yes or no. He’ll be glad to get you back on track, because the point of the journey is not just to get from A to B. It’s to relish the trip and involve Him in everything that happens in between.