We’ve all heard the quote that it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination, right? I think there is a ring of truth to this idea. I’ve read Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Jane Eyre several times each. They’re my comfort reads. They’re books I go back to in the winter when I need to be reminded that spring will come again. I know how they end. I know about the Gray Havens. I know about Harry’s children, and I know about Jane and Mr. Rochester’s children. I know how the story ends. I’m not reading the book for the ending. I’m reading it for the beloved journey to the end. I’m reading it to let Théoden ride again. I’m reading it to play Quidditch in my mind. I’m reading it to watch a girl do the right thing when it’s the hardest thing. Over and over I read these books because the journey is more significant than the destination.
As a Christian, the destination is of primary importance to us. The destination is where we finally see hope fulfilled. We see. We see Christ, not by faith, but with our eyes. We will hear his voice with our ears. We will touch him with our fingers. We will finally see our great elder brother, our husband, our captain, our mighty King. Our destination is truly a mighty one.
But, at the moment of salvation we are not suddenly made perfect. We aren’t whisked away to paradise. We aren’t taken from this world. We aren’t even taken out of our sinful flesh. We are left to toil, suffer, and ultimately to die. For we are humans are we not? We are mankind even as Christians. We are left in the world God made for us until we die.
The Holy Spirit puts this time, this journey, to good use. He uses it to sanctify us and make us more like Christ. That is the point. The good in Romans is not good as in happiness and comfort, but good as in “conforming us to the image of Christ”. We are constantly being melted down. We are being weaned off this world, trained—like soldiers in basic training—to live by faith, lay up our treasure in heaven, love the brethren, and grow in grace and understanding. We are not magically righteous. We are made righteous.
For us the Journey is important.
My husband put it this way when he was preaching on theology the other night: The theological logic is as filled with blessing as the theological truth.
The journey is filled with blessing just as much as the Destination.
We may not understand why God decided not to just rapture us out at the moment of regeneration. We may not understand why God decided not to make us perfect at our first breath of faith, but we can rest in His Word. The journey is important.
Romans 8: 18-30: (ESV)
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
There is a journey here, a path to follow from predestined to glorified, from suffering to being conformed to the image of Christ. And just like the stories I love, I know the destination. I know where the journey ends. That gives me hope in the journey, but it also gives me the ability to focus on the journey.
The first time you read Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or Jane Eyre every fiber in your being is focused on the destination. But when you know the destination, your focus is on the journey. I know how the story ends. Knowing the end frees you to focus on the growth of the characters. You can see Frodo fail. You can soak in Neville’s courage. You can analyze the conversations between Jane and Mr. Rochester. You can focus on the journey because you know the end.
Life is the same for a Christian. (Oh the wonderful beauty of God’s wisdom, and the lesser yet still amazing beauty of stories.) You know the end, if you have faith in Christ, which frees you to focus on the journey here on earth. You can focus on the war against sin, your fellow saints, the means of grace, truth, love, and the beauty of the bride of Christ—His Church. You know where you’re going and you know how you’re going to get there. Focus on the journey.