Journey is a major theme in the Bible and it comes to readers early. Adam and Eve journey away from the garden, due to their sin that separates them from God. Noah and his family take a journey in a boat that puts them in a new place and in a new creation, once the waters recede. Then, we meet Abram. And we met him because God abruptly calls him to leave home to go to a place he will later show him (12:1). Abram’s journey with God lasts from Genesis 12 – 25. All of it a journey without arriving at a final destination. There are high and low points, and they are all learning points for Abram.
The rest of Genesis and Exodus continues the journey theme. Moses wanders in the dessert and then is called to lead his people out of captivity. But not before 40 years in the wilderness that ultimately leads to his death. Deuteronomy and Judges pick up again with this theme as the Hebrew people get ready to enter the Promised Land. David’s destination as King was interrupted a couple of times by his fleeing and hiding in caves when people attempted to overthrow him. The Israelites were conquered by foreign powers and found themselves a long way from their home, in exile.
During his ministry, Jesus was always on the go. An itinerant preacher, he did not own anything. The early church was often times represented as a boat, one that was on the move and trusted not its own guidance, but to the wind and current of the Holy Spirit.
So it seems to me, that for Christians, the question is not are we on a journey? We certainly are! The larger question is, are we OK not being in control of where we are going? For most of us raised in America, the point of our journey is to find success, wealth, power, and security. But according to scripture’s witness, our destination is simply but profoundly in knowing and trusting more fully in a God who created us, loves us, and has a purpose in mind for us.
If faith and certainty are opposites, then Abram’s relationship with God is instructive for us. Scripture tells us that Abram was obedient and followed God toward an unknown destination. During his faith journey he gave us examples of full trust in what God was up to in his life – he welcomed strangers in his tent, he offered Lot the choice grazing fields instead of hording it for himself and he was willing to sacrifice his only son when God asked. These were simply amazing gestures of faith in God.
But, Abram sometimes also got nervous on his journey. It wasn’t long into his journey that fear caused him to doubt God and twice he basically prostituted his wife to foreign leaders (Genesis 12:10-20 and Genesis 20:1-18) Abram and Sara, together decided to take matters into their own hands when Sara could not conceive and Abram bore a child with Hagar. And the story gets passed down. When we, who depend on God as our traveling guide, do so with our whole being, we get to experience the miraculous. But as soon as we get afraid, or we get too confident in ourselves, or we get impatient, we lose sight of our purpose. To fully trust in God means to humbly and completely lean into his provision for our present and our future.
There is no clear and easy answer to the question, “where does God want me to go?” The best answer is often frustrating to us all: To humbly and completely depend on God and trust God. And what does that look like? We have examples throughout the Bible. But, of course, our best example is that of Jesus. To humbly depend on God as Jesus did is to be at peace that wherever you are is where God wants you to be. There, you will see the world with the eyes of Christ and see so many ways to shine hope and light wherever you might find yourself. If this is true, then in the end, our journey is the point – not the destination.