I grew up in a small town in north-central Texas. Our family never traveled far. I sometimes tell people that my first visit to a foreign country was across the Red River into Oklahoma. But when I was eighteen, I started a journey that has taken me to places I never imagined: the Opera House in Sydney Harbor, the coast of New Zealand, fishing for piranha on the Amazon, volcanoes in Guatemala, the lighthouse at Banda Aceh, Indonesia, the pyramids of Egypt, Mozart’s home in Salzburg, the Docu Zentrum in Nuremberg, the Pantheon in Rome, Lennin’s Tomb and the Kremlin in Moscow.
Something about the human spirit is drawn to the journey. Maybe that is why On the Road Again remains one of Willie Nelson’s most popular songs. We are mesmerized by the expeditions of Marco Polo, Columbus, Magellan, Lewis and Clark, Lindbergh, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. We are drawn to the imaginary journeys of Hobbits seeking Mount Doom and Star Trek’s quest to go where no man has gone before. Journeys, both real and imagined, change the world and they change us.
God chooses to reveal himself through our journeys. Redemption starts with God’s call to Abraham to leave his father’s country and go to places he had never seen. Moses’ journey out of Egypt produced the Ten Commandments which provide the basis for all moral understanding. No journey was ever more life changing than the journey Jesus started when he left Nazareth and gathered twelve men to follow him. Their travels on foot through the regions of Galilee, Judea and Samaria changed the world. The stories of their encounters with the lame, the blind, the rich, the poor, prostitutes and priests provide us the framework for understanding God and ourselves.
We are all on a journey. The journeys we choose, where we go, how we get there and who goes with us will shape us and change us for the better or the worse. Sometimes our journeys lead us to distant places, sometimes close to home. The most important decisions about any journey is how we trust in God and how we treat others along the way.
We like to think we will all arrive at the same destination no matter what we believe, what we do or how we live. But the fact of the matter is that different roads lead to different places. Jesus said “broad is the way and wide is the gate that leads to destruction and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) He alone knows the way that leads to life and He continually invites us to join the journey that leads us there.