“Are we there yet?” Ah, the familiar sound of a weary traveler.
Whether it’s the monotonous miles between two points, the unscheduled drama along the way or just the boring scenery, some journeys are longer than others. Maybe your tour of ministry is on one of those unenviable journeys right now. It’s easy to tell—every timem you look ahead,there’s bumpy road as far as the eye can see.
Job’s life was like that—a disastrous journey that seemed endless. Even when he asked for directions, all he got was road conditions. Job’s personal traveling consultant Eliphaz the Discourager didn’t have any better answers than Job. He lamented, “Man is born for trouble.” It was the naysayer’s way of saying, “You can’t get there from here!”
Abraham’s life was also a journey. Just after his wheels finally pulled out of the deep childless rut, he hit a mountain of potholes. For 25 years, he’d waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise…only to be told to sacrifice it.
Jesus probably had these journeys in mind when He said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow—and then looks back—is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” In other words, bumpy roads—fender-rattling, bone-jarring, coffee-spilling bumps—come with the territory.
Long, hard journeys appear to be part of life’s DNA; God’s creation points to it:
• The grey whale navigates 10,000 miles up and down the west coast each year at a speed comparable to a child on a bicycle…because it has to.
• Every year, the Arctic tern is required to relocate 22,000 miles away, roughly the circumference of the earth.
• Desert locusts have been known to cross oceans for a preprogrammed raid.
• The ever-so-slow leatherback turtle must travel 3,000 miles annually for its favorite meal: jellyfish a la carte.
• The monarch butterfly, which can’t even fly a straight line and is forever losing momentum to the gentlest breeze, is compelled to migrate 3,000 miles—a trek that takes five generations to complete.
Each of these abnormally long journeys are orchestrated by the same creative and sovereign God who appoints us to our journeys.
I’m always impressed by fellow travelers who’ve “fought the good fight: and “finished the course,” who didn’t “grow weary in well doing,” who “[ran] with endurance the race set before [them],” although their journeys were long and often very lonely.
Men Such As:
Charles Simeon: For 54 years, he pastored Holy Trinity Church at Cambridge University. During the journey, he endured isolation and slander by the faculty, boycotts by church members, church wardens who intentionally locked him out on Sundays, students who shouted obscenities during service and threw rotten eggs as he left chapel—all because of his faithful and biblical teaching in a secular culture.
Andrew Murray: At age 21, Murray began a 68-year pastorate that served 50,000 square miles of dangerous terrain. With his passion for Christ and love of the African people, launched evangelistic tours, church plants and Bible schools. Because of his dep involvement in tribal education, his was one of few voices who bitterly opposed the growing apartheid movement and its contemporary label of Christian.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: While millions were slaughtered under the Nazi regime, the German church leaders remained silent, fearful that speaking out might “cause the reputation of the church to suffer.” Bonhoeffer fought back by telling his fellow clergy, “Stop trying to save Hitler and start saving yourselves from this great sin.” Openly he preached, “Christians can have nly one Fuehrer, and His name is Jesus Christ.” Bonhoeffer’s lonely and difficult journey startled and energized a silent world.
Paul was very familiar with these long, rough roads. In fact, he visited them often; but rather than hating them, he looked for Christ while traveling on them. The note on his memo pad read, “That I may know Him…and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
Be encouraged because rough roads lead to places you’ll be glad you visited. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. “Don’t get discouraged, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.”