Is It About the Journey?

Random post! Here’s an essay I wrote.

The Destination by M.L. Millard

Depending on which website you visit, the quote regarding life’s being about the journey and not the destination is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Pastor Lynn H. Hough, Constantine Cavafy, and Aerosmith. Regardless of who said it, some people might think, “If it’s all about the journey, then I am hopeless.” They might not be able to put into words what they’ve learned along the way, or how they’ve changed. They might not have changed for the better. They might think that this journey, frankly, sucks.

This journey has children born to abusers. It has cancer and dementia and mass shootings. Heartbreak. Yes, it also has moments of hope. Moments of joy. But even when we individually have those moments, there are the nagging reminders that many others are suffering. Some people might be thinking, “If this is the journey, it had better have one hell of a destination.”

Maybe “hell” is the wrong word.

Who wants to ride in the car with a whiny, stinky toddler for eight hours and turn around at the gates of Disneyland? “Time to go home. It was about the journey!” Not me.

So for those others of you who, when asked about your life’s journey, can only honestly say, “Well, I’m still standing,” I want to tell you that it’s okay. It’s okay to not be able to sum up what you’ve learned, or accomplished, or overcome. It’s okay to feel like you’re in the same damned spot you were in twenty years ago.

Maybe “damned” is the wrong word.

Is it about the journey? Even the toddler at the gates of Disneyland knows that it is not.

So what is the destination? According to the Bible, it is a place where there is no mourning, crying, or pain. No night. A place with a river as bright as crystal, and streets paved with gold so pure that it’s clear like glass. A place where God himself wipes our tears, and we live forever with our new bodies, worshipping our creator and enjoying the gates of precious stone, the fruit trees, the freedom from everything that made our journey here on Earth so painful.

Some people think that a loving God wouldn’t let bad things happen on our journey. They prefer to think that there is no God. But I prefer to think that He had His reasons for giving us the free will that so many used for evil, and that when we get to heaven, all our burning questions about our journey will disappear, replaced by a sudden and complete understanding.

Some people seem to be satisfied with the here and now – with the good they can do today. And I admire them. But if that’s not you, it’s okay. It’s okay if the promise of heaven is the only thing that gives you the strength to get up and make what little difference you can in your neighborhood. God made us all different, and in some of us He created a need to believe that the destination is worth the journey. That is not to say that only such people believe in God. Believers come from both of those groups – those who work happily and think little of heaven, and those who cling to the promise of heaven every hour.

When you realize that you might have a worthwhile destination, you perk up about the journey a little. “Now how exactly do I get there?” The short answer is “Believe, and show your belief by loving God and loving others.” You’ll be led on a journey in trusting God for your eternal future. There will not be a test about the big bang theory at the gates of heaven.

“But,” you might say, “I’ve seen plenty of Christians who say they love God but clearly don’t love others. I don’t want to be like them.” Jesus’s disciple John says that anyone who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen. He says that if a person says he loves God but hates his brother, then that person is a liar. We have all seen those hateful people, and though I’m sad that they give Christianity a bad name, and though I pray that they see the light, they are irrelevant on your journey. God loves you. Those people are imperfect, uninformed, and need prayer, but do not let them stop you from getting to heaven. Maybe they have not fully understood God’s grace, and therefore have trouble extending grace to others. Maybe they haven’t yet read the part of the Bible where Jesus says to love your enemies.

“But what about other religions?” You might ask. “What do they say about our destination?” Although I have read about the other major religions, I cannot claim to be an expert on them. I have read the Bible many times and even written a short book about every verse that mentions the kingdom of heaven, and all I know is that it is enough for me. Jesus was the sacrifice for my sin, and all He leaves for me to do is to accept that gift and continue on my journey loving God and others.

Heaven is better than Disneyland. No broken down rides, no measles, and no long lines – or at least if there are long lines, we won’t mind because we won’t be trying to cram our fun into three days and four nights. We’ll have eternity. And when we get to the gates after this long, long, drive, I don’t know about you, but I am going in.

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