Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle is lit for each of the advent themes. These days we live aboard a boat, so instead we will “turn on” a flameless candle as we consider the second theme of advent, JOY.
A white square with black typeface print. I can see it in my mind as clear as if I was still standing in my old kitchen staring at the prominent fridge magnet…its words, a reflection of an effort to course correct: Life is Journey, Not a Destination This would become our mantra, a rallying cry, a reminder of our intent to enjoy the journey. How did this magnet find its way to our fridge? Well, you see, years ago one member of our household struggled with “journeys”. Traversing shopping malls, careers, hiking trails or highways, they had a “get to the other place” mindset. This was not always a bad thing. This is a focus that often propelled them/us to important places, life events and milestones in a timely and helpful fashion. But it also created a sense of stress, rush and frustration. Then one day, they proclaimed they were going to be ALL about the JOURNEY in life. It was a powerful shift, not easy or natural. I marveled at the intentional effort, the impact was unmistakable in our lives.
These days remembering to enjoy the journey is a challenge we both continually face. Perhaps it is time to buy another magnet for the boat fridge? This week the journey is weighing on my heart. As I prepared to write this post about JOY, the image of that old black and white magnet danced in my head like the “sugar plumb fairy” from that famous poem. I often find my focus is on getting through, arriving on the other side of difficult days, enduring, seeking a completion, a resting place. I am destination minded. I have been busy white knuckling the reins of my life(and that of my adult kids if I’m being honest), reins I grabbed from the very capable hands of my Heavenly Father, and trying to “journey” my way faster, easier, in and around all the days I deemed to be difficult, painful, hard and unsettling.
Our pastor once said, regarding the life/national/world events of this year, “Perhaps it is not about what God is doing to us, but rather what He is doing for us?” I’m glad our service was a virtual one, I would not have been proud of the face I made,(an emoji eye roll comes to mind). But the more I considered his words, the more I felt lead to spend less time wringing my hands and more time looking for the hands of God. I had been so intent on being saved from the journey, that I almost missed the gifting of it all. God’s handiwork was easy to see when I stopped and looked. Still the struggle to find joy in the journey continued. And then this….as I checked in with a friend who has been battling cancer. His reply to my “How are your doing?” :
“Every day the Lord gives me is a gift and an excellent reason to give it my best.”
I was shook at that truth as it applies to us all. These days of our journey…easy, wonderful, full, precious, painful, worrisome, hard, trying…are gifts, and excellent reasons to give it our all. Let us seek God in our journey, giving the days our all, knowing the JOY of Him, ever mindful that He redeems us, He is for us, He is with us. This is truly news of great JOY to ALL people…..
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child and bear a son, a they shall call His name Immanuel”( which means, God with us.) Matthew 1:23
He came to us, for us and will one day come again!
P.S. I think I do need a new fridge magnet, I want to be reminded to treasure the journey…but I would amend it to read: Life is a journey, with a destination!