One of the things about life is that it can seem to be smoothly rolling along—like we haven’t a care in the world—when all of a sudden it comes to a screeching halt, and we are forced to take a change in direction.
It can happen when we are young, when our parents move (and we have to move too). It can happen in the decisions that we make about our education, and the kind of work that we want to do. It can be about our decision to have a partner, and the many compromises that are needed to be made to join two lives together. And it can happen with the decision to retire, and with a whole new set of circumstances to face. Etc., etc.
There are numerous events which can cause us to re-evaluate, and find our lives pointing in a different direction. But it isn’t just the more “secular” events that can change our lives, an encounter with God can see us change too.
Indeed, imagine we have a map, and on it we have marked our life’s journey. We begin at Point A and our goal is Point B. And if we did that, we could see the path we can take for our journey. We would also a number of distractions that can divert us too. But, imagine, all of a sudden, we have an encounter with Jesus. And what that means is that we need refocus our goals and change our destination.
Now the problem is, that to be Christians we don’t have a choice of the journey. We all start at Point A—being sinners—and we all need to change direction from Point B (where we were headed), to Point C (where we can enjoy eternal life). And how we do that, in Biblical terms, is that we need to “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate that is wide and the road that is broad leads to destruction—and many enter through it. But even though few find it, the small gate and the narrow road leads to life.” (Matthew 7:13-14). Furthermore, in the words of Jesus himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
When we consider the list of life changing events, then, an encounter with Jesus would have to be far more dramatic.
But having said that, however, we may all be sinners, buy your starting point (Point A) will not necessarily be the same as mine. We all come from different backgrounds. Furthermore our experiences from Point A to Point C may be very different too.
Indeed, even the early disciples came from very different backgrounds. Many were fishermen—uneducated men looking for the coming of the Messiah. Matthew was a tax collector—one of the most hated occupations in the land. And the Apostle Paul was a Pharisee—out to protect the Pharisaic version of the Jewish faith no matter what the cost. All their faith journeys were different. Their starting points were different, and so were their spiritual experiences.
Yes, they were all on the same road together, well eleven of them at least. But their journeys and the speed at which they arrived at their destination was different, one from another.
As a consequence, when it comes to the Christian journey, the task may be to go from Point A to Point C, but not everyone will start at the same place; people will travel at different speeds; not everyone will get to the same destination without stopping; and some will get very distracted on the way. Indeed, you may know some people who have been in the church for years, but who are quite happily plodding along at their own pace. You may also know others who are keen to reach the end goal as fast as they can.
We’re all different. And, as a consequence, God’s calls us to exercise the different gifts that he gives us, which are all designed to help, encourage, build each other up, and keep as all on track as we continue our common journey. And because of the constantly changing dynamics of the church, those different gifts and abilities will be required to be used at different stages on the journey.
And that should suggest that it’s not just once that we should expect an encounter with Jesus. But that it will happen again and again, as he tweaks our paths on the journey.
As I indicated at the beginning, it may be very nice to live a life where everything goes smoothly along. Indeed, it may be what most of us desire. But we all know that life’s not like that—that there are stages in life, that require us to re-evaluate our goals and reassess our journeys.
And just as that’s true for the more “secular” events, it’s also true in regard to our relationship with God. At some time or another, God calls all people to change direction, from Point B (where we want to go) to Point C (the way to eternal life). But where we start from, and how we travel along that path, will be very different for us all.
Prop – Map
Posted 14th March 2019
© 2019, Brian A Curtis