Are we nearly there yet? If you have children, I expect you have heard that phrase more times than you care to remember. To them there is something about arriving that is the only thing that matters. Children can be so impatient, well to be honest can’t we all. For us all, a journey is about what happens when we arrive. We plan our day out, or our visit, and the journey is a necessary evil that has to be endured in order to get there.
I once went on a car journey with one of my children in the back of the car. The journey was quite long and after some miles, she called out to me “mummy I don’t feel very well”. I looked in the rear-view mirror and said “don’t worry you don’t look green yet” hoping to appease her for a little longer until I could pull in at a convenient place. After a couple more miles a little voice called out from the back seat saying “what colour am I now mummy”. I managed to get a tub passed to her before; well I’m sure you don’t need me to elaborate.
Someone recently told me to enjoy the journey, not a physical one but a life one. I of course, was focusing on the end result, or at least the next milestone along the way, and not what might be gained from the experience of getting there. As the church we plan from one point in the church calendar to the next thinking will this be the project that brings in the ultimate result? We put all our efforts into the planning and executing with the hope that this will hit the mark then we can have a lovely cup of tea and a biscuit while we consider how that all went. Did it achieve all we had hoped for? Did we arrive at the pre-planned destination?
Dare I say that we need to realise that actually this is one long continuous journey, arriving is not important. I know that’s hard for any ‘completer finishers’ out there, but we all need to be journey people and not arrival people. The day that Jesus comes again will be the day the journey ends.
The days of people considering church as a place to investigate or go to for a special occasion are long gone. We need to go out fishing and not sit in our buildings with a few enticing worms and expecting them to come in and enter the net. Go out into the deep, get amongst the people, be the body of Christ where the people are because they are no longer coming to where we are.
We need everybody to take on the mantle of evangelist. People who are prepared to journey with folk even if it means joining the local history club or craft group. Remember Jesus on the road to Emmaus, he was prepared to journey away from Jerusalem in order to travel physically as well as spiritually until the penny dropped and his two companions turned around and went back to where they should be. If Jesus walked at approximately 3 miles an hour would you or I be walking with him, in front of him or behind him. It might mean that you actually have to take it slow or sometimes even stop.
As far as I was concerned all those years ago, the journey and the getting there was the all-important thing. But my daughter was hitting a moment of crisis. She needed to stop and allow her churning stomach to settle. A moment of crisis needs to be our opportunity not our inconvenience. I don’t want to miss the moment, because I am looking ahead or so focused on my proprieties that I don’t even notice what is right next to me. Sometimes we just need to stop and really see the people around us, the joys and the trials. Perhaps we could stop planning and relying solely on the invite and the church special and just give them time and share our story. As scary as it might be, some of those I meet might be strangers, or perhaps just not yet fellow travellers! I’ve got to learn more about embracing the journey and less about focusing on the arriving.