Thursday, July 11, 2002

What Kind of Trip is That?

Let me tell you about my trip.

Before we left on the trip I purchased a map. It was a good map. But at the first rest stop, I noticed another map so I bought it. When we stopped for gas, the convenience store had an entire rack of maps, so I bought a couple more. It seemed that every time I turned around I found a newer map, or a different colored map, or a bigger map that I simply had to have. So I bought them. It got so that I was throwing away perfectly good maps because I had so many.

Before we left, I also purchased traveler’s checks. As we drove I pulled them out once in a while to look at them, admire them, hold them and then put them back in my bag. My children asked to stop for food. I explained that we didn’t have any money. “What about the traveler’s checks?” they asked. “Oh, no we can’t use those. We might need them some day.” So my children went hungry as I hoarded our travelers checks.

For this trip I rented a van. It was a nice van, brand new. Each time we stopped, I jumped out to clean the chrome and check for dents. I changed the oil every 400 miles. My children asked to listen to a CD. “No, it might get the CD player dirty.” I made them sit in the van, hands folded, shoes off to make sure they didn’t harm the van or get it dirty. The longer we traveled the more fanatical I became with the condition of the van and how it looked to others.

Do you have any idea how impertinent other drivers are these days? They didn’t want to give me my rights on the road – the right to be at the front of the pack, the right to drive where I want to drive at the speed I want to drive. I had to cut people off constantly to keep them in their place. Hey, I deserve to be first, you know.

When we did stop to eat on this trip, I insisted that we only eat at five star restaurants. Well, I did anyway. I left the rest of the family in the van. But I ate and very well, insisting on the finest 7 course meals, demanding to be served and catered to. Basking in the experience, lingering at the table. I always made certain I sat by the door so that when the meal was over I could slip out the door without paying. Back to my starving children.

Finally, after many days of travel, we approached our destination. Instead of being excited, I was very sad, very nervous, very anxious. Earlier on the trip I drove like a maniac. Now I slowed to a crawl. In fact, I did everything I could to avoid going to the destination. Eventually, when I could put it off no longer, we arrived. My dehydrated, starving, crying children in the back of the van.

“You are a stupid man!” you are probably saying, (if you believe I really took this trip). And you would be right. Not only stupid, but insensitive, despicable, selfish, conceited and more.

My priorities are completely turned upside down. It is obvious I missed the entire purpose and value of the trip. If that is so, and it is, then WHY DO WE DO IT ALL THE TIME?

The trip is the journey we call life. It begins at conception and ends at death. It is a trip through human existence. Life is not a destination, but a journey. That view changes everything.

The maps are our possessions. We buy, gather and keep buying even though what we have can still serve our purpose. Why? Because the new, the different has selfish appeal and we justify our purchases with high sounding words.

The travelers checks are our money. We work to get it, value it, admire it, hoard it and spend it selfishly while people in our lives go needy. Why? Because it has selfish appeal.

The rental van is the body we live in. God gives it to us for the journey. As we travel we can get obsessed with how it looks and functions. We forget that God expects proper care, but intentional use while we are on this journey.

The demands for rights on the highway are our position and reputation. We believe the constitution as if it is the Bible when it says we have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We forget the only position that is truly is important is our position in relationship with God and the only reputation that is ultimately important at the end of the journey is how God thinks about us.

The meals at five star restaurants are our desire for pleasures our way. We want to feel good. God has created pleasures to enjoy His way, but our selfishness lures us toward pleasure our way, ignoring others along the way. Remember my poor starving children suffering while I was in the restaurant? You say you would never do that? We do it anytime we choose pleasure our way – it always hurts God and others. Always.

The sneaking away without paying is our character. What do we do when we think no one is watching as we journey?

Finally, the destination is our eternity via death. It is easy to forget we are simply passing through and to become obsessed with the trip and the tools instead of the destination. When we fixate on the trip we fear death, try to avoid it at all costs, get nervous as we approach it. When we focus on the ultimate goal we realize death is the doorway to the destination of this journey.

The reward at the end of life will be determined by how we travel through the human journey. If we have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ and live to do the works He has prepared for us to do, the reward will be great. If we have a personal relationship with God but only do enough to get by, we might make it to heaven but there will be no reward. If we ignore God and live this journey our way, well, we ought to fear eternity because it will be eternal punishment.

So, how are you going to travel from now forward? It is never too late to start traveling right. Use the map, the travelers checks, the rental, the highway, enjoy the pleasures, develop Christ like character and approach the destination the way God has designed. Pleasing Him and serving others in small and large ways. We have nothing to fear as long as we are pleasing God. Travel well. I’ll see you at the end.

"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me... 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matthew 10:40, 42

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3

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