As I was making the 10-minute drive to buy groceries, I ran into several hindrances that kept me from getting to the store and back home by using the usual route. In both directions, I re-routed myself since I didn’t have the patience for road construction; and on the alternate route back home, a delivery truck was parked in my lane. With a curve just beyond it, I had to be very cautious and observant for cars coming in my direction. Once I was able to stay mobile I started thinking about my travel difficulties. Our lives are the same way – full of obstacles and detours.
What kinds of obstacles am I talking about? Things that keep us from getting to where we want to go or doing what we want to do. It can be a variety of things: sickness, injury, depression, financial difficulties, a change in job, trips/vacation, and family or marriage issues. The list could easily go on for several paragraphs, so feel free to fill in your own blank: _________________.
This analogy can be applied to many aspects of our lives; but because this is my blog, I’m going to narrow it down to two different kinds of journeys: a healthy lifestyle and a spiritual journey.
A Journey to a Healthy Lifestyle
Having been on this journey myself for four years, I am all too familiar with obstacles and detours that have delayed my trip. (There’s a reason why it’s taken me four years!) Sometimes it can be as simple as the common cold that keeps me from an exercise schedule, which is just like stopping at a rest area. Other times it can be as complicated as a full schedule, which would be considered a detour since I would have to reschedule my plans. Unfortunately, there have been times when that wasn’t even possible.
The biggest obstacle I’ve encountered on this healthy journey is myself. No, I didn’t stutter – you read that correctly! I’ve said many times that I am my worst distraction, and it holds true in this case. Feelings of defeat. Thoughts of giving up. Questioning my sanity. All of these can get in the way (or at least slow us down) of reaching our goals.
So what have I done to stay on track, you ask? The answer is probably a little more complex than this, but I basically just pick up where I left off and kept pressing on toward my goal. I also find a way to combat the negative thoughts and feelings as soon as they hit by reminding myself of how far I’ve come. Now let’s move on to another (and more important) aspect of healthy living: our spiritual being.
A Spiritual Journey
Depending on your beliefs, a spiritual journey can mean different things. Because I’m a pastor, we’re going to focus on a relationship with Jesus. When you accept Jesus as your Savior and begin to live for Him, your life does not begin to travel on a smooth road. Anyone who tells you that has no clue what they’re talking about. Trust me! Your life is definitely BETTER, but not necessarily smoother. Detours, road blocks, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes will still come across your path in an attempt to derail your faith and destroy your relationship with Christ. They can come in many forms: earth-shaking news of deadly illness, a whirlwind of financial troubles that knocks us off our feet, or a big “road closed” sign blocks our plans. These types of things are inevitable; and unfortunately, many of them cannot be prevented.
How we handle these obstacles determine how strong our faith really is. And when dealt with in the right way, it strengthens our relationship with Christ. So how do we prepare ourselves for these roadblocks and detours? By spending time with Him. And what in the world does that look like, you wonder? It’s a very common question that I’ve even asked myself at times. I realize this will sound like your standard pat answer, but it’s still true. It looks like this: praying and reading the Bible. I know! It’s a very easy answer, but there’s nothing easy about it. It takes discipline. It is simple, though. All you have to do is talk with God throughout the day like you would a friend. And don’t forget to set aside a dedicated time when it’s just the two of you – sort of like a date night. But that’s not enough. The other part is reading the Bible and taking God’s promises to heart.
Even though I have only discussed two journeys, the most important one is life itself. Yes, life is a journey that never ends – until we die. Until then, we have to learn to navigate obstacles and detours that pop up along the way. Just like a road trip or running errands, you wouldn’t just stop or give up on getting to your destination. Frustrating? Yes! Aggravating? You bet! So what do we do when something gets in our way? If we’re in unfamiliar territory, we either pull out our GPS or map (depending on what era you’re from) or we take a side route that we know in the area. In other words, we find a new or different road to meet our goal. And sometimes we just have to press on or maneuver through the road construction (and have patience doing it). Either way, we will make it to our destination as long as we keep moving and never give up.