My friend Glenn blogged about this very topic today, so I hope he didn’t steal all of my thunder (what thunder I have anyways).
I first came across the idea of journey being just as important or more important than the destination in my friend Pete’s book, How (Not) To Speak of God. Consider this passage:
This approach [of religious desire] can help us to appreciate why the Psalmist writes, ‘those who desire God lack no good thing’ and why the Gospels tell us to ‘seek first the kingdom’. Here seeking and desiring are placed over and against having and possessing. . . . The verse verse which speaks of this [Matthew 7:7-8] does not refer to two separate moments but rather to a type of present-continuous tense by which the seeking is the finding, the asking is the receiving and the knocking is the opening – in short, these are not two distinct events but rather occur at one and the same time.”
Maybe he’s on to something here. Maybe the place we seek to inhabit in the future is not some sort of utopia, untainted by sin or pressures or responsibility. Maybe we are only fooling ourselves when we employ this sort of thinking. We always think that someday we will be complete; we will reach a point that we consider to be a finish line. However, in my short lifespan, I have discovered that more joy and much more can be learned from the time leading up to the next monumental step. What I am referring to here can be demonstrated in the pressure there is to graduate high school. As a child, you think that when that specific point is reached, somehow life will be better and you will find some sort of fulfillment. However, upon reaching that goal, you realize that a new goal must now fill the void. And then your eyes are set towards a college degree and the fulfillment that comes along with that. Maybe this is what compelled Victor Frankl to write, “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
This is what I find life to be. Not lived in the horrors of slavery in Egypt, or in the Promised Land full of milk and honey, but in the desert. The journey gets overlooked, and yet that is where we find ourselves most often. Once we understand that life is exile and not the Promised Land, nor will it ever be the Promised Land, a new life perspective has room to be birthed. Life is the journey, not the destination.
This whole idea of the journey being quite important is nothing new really. The brilliant Christian thinker Oswald Chambers has some thoughts on the topic in his classic, My Utmost for His Highest. Chambers says that “God is not working toward a particular finish – His purpose is the process itself”. A bit later he writes, “If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention the the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.”
I think this is partially why roadtrips appeal to a number of people. The point of these trips is not the destination; it’s really about the trip leading up to the destination. Because let’s face it, the destination tends to let us down. It hardly ever lives up to the hype. On the other hand, we can never be certain what paths our journey will take us down.
The second President of the United States, John Adams, once said, “The end is worth more than all the means.” However, I believe it would be more fitting to say, “The means is worth more than all the ends.”