Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Journey or Destination?
My motto is that life is about the journey. That certainly doesn’t say everything about my life, but it is an attempt to focus my life on the present process of life, rather than the future destination. This is not to say that the destination is unimportant. Rather, the destination is important, especially for the Christian. It is good that we live in the light of our future heavenly union with Jesus. The Apostle Paul, for example, tells us to keep our minds on heavenly things above, where Christ is (Colossians 3:1ff). The writer of Hebrews told us to fix our eyes on Jesus as we go though this life (Hebews 12:1,2). We are to keep the destination in mind because it helps us to be faithful through the thick and thin of life. And, it provides us with present joy to know that a divine union awaits us. However, the future does not exist, but the only thing that does exist on the time scale is the present. If we keep our attention on a future that does not yet exist we will miss the present which is all that does exist. This is hard for some of us to accept. I tend to be future oriented, or I tend to want to be somewhere other than where I am at the moment. Usually some idealized fantasy world that doesn’t include pain, struggles, and problems. So, my blog theme is an attempt to help me to focus on what I am doing right now. Jesus told us to not worry about the future, but to give our attention to one day at a time and one thing at a time. The future will take care of itself and it will come to us without any of our expectations or anxieties. Furthermore, the future will come to us as something far different than we plan or expect. This is the irony of being destination focused. It can be a wasteful exercise. We plan, worry, fret, play the future over in our mind as we want it to be, but it never unfolds as we plan. This does not mean we don’t prepare, plan, and set goals for the future, but it means that planning is “very” limited and overrated. We can have our heads so focused on the future that we miss the fullness of the moment and so not fully alive in the present. Recently, I listened to an interview on NPR of a neurosurgeon who had a stroke. The stroke took away her ability to think about the future or the past, but it left her with complete awareness of the present. She wrote a book about this and described how the present became a wonderful experience once she lost her ability to think about the past and the future. She was “completely” present. She described it as euphoric. She was able to fully engage and experience things that she missed before the stroke. Gradually, her perception of past and future returned, but she wanted to teach people through this book to embrace the present more fully. Our experience of the life that God has given us will more fully be enjoyed and useful once we become fully present.