A few months ago, my family and I moved from Connecticut to Texas because God called me to be the Worship Pastor at a church here in Amarillo. God likes to shake things up in my life and do a lot of work through changes that take place in my life. And on the road trip here (to Texas), He did some work on my heart. Here’s what happened:
The bulk of day one on the road was spent in a U-Haul with my father-in-law, whom I shall now, henceforth, refer to as the “Marathon Driver”. No seriously–––the man is a machine.
Anywho, as the Marathon Driver and I were chuggin’ along, I found myself periodically looking at the little blinking dot on my iPhone maps that tells me where we are presently located. Okay, I checked it more than periodically, and some people would consider the time I have spent with my GPS map as obsessive, but who’s counting right? As I kept checking, the daunting thought of how much farther we had to go kept creeping into my head. And as the day dragged on, even with the Marathon Driver at the wheel and my professional backseat driving hard at work, somehow, we still got tired. As I got tired, the thought of how far we still had to go became a heavier reality to shoulder.
Strangely enough, right around the time we were about to stop for the night, something hit me. All at once a question tugged at my curiosity…
“What if I looked at how far we’ve come?”
As I scrolled back through the map and looked over the many miles we had traveled, the result was quite satisfying. We’d passed through western Connecticut, then crossed over to New York. We were in New York for approximately 47 seconds, or so it seemed, but the state that followed took an eternity to get through. I think I watched The Hunger Games (the whole movie) twice. That is, as we made our way through Pennsylvania and into Ohio.
Oops. Did I say The Hunger Games? I meant The Last of the Mohicans. Sure. That’s more manly. Right.
In Ohio we stopped at a Pilot, and since our U-Haul was too big to park with the cars, we had to park it in the back with the ‘Big Trucks’ (if you know what I mean). We were like a sapling in the midst of a giant redwood forest. I’ve never felt so wimpy in all my life. A couple of truckers were chatting when we drove up and then they stopped and stared at us, as if to say, “Get your wimpy U-Haul out of here and don’t come back ’till you get a real truck.” And as much as I just wanted to drive on, my stomach was ‘a-growlin’ so I gritted my teeth, swallowed my pride, and got a delicious burger with curly fries from Arby’s.
Then we crossed over into Indiana. Our goal was to make it over the Missouri border before we slept, but once 3am rolled around, it was too risky to proceed with such heavy eyes. So we stopped for the night in Cloverdale, Indiana…
Point being, when I looked back, we had come a long way from where we started. We covered five states and around 850 miles.
Sometimes our relationship with God can be the same way.
We can get discouraged by getting caught up with focusing on all our faults and how far we have to grow. This of course, is when its important to find encouragement in a couple foundational truths.
1. We should recognize that it is by God’s grace alone that growth can be achieved. He can and will help us, if we seek Him for it.
2. It is always important to remember that perfection is NOT the goal. Living fully for His glory, by the grace He provides is our goal.
3. When we feel discouraged about the long distance we still have to go (spiritually), it is a great encouragement to see how far God has brought us. Even if we have only been fighting the fight of faith for months, we will still be able to tell a difference between where we started, and where God has brought us.
Think back with me, to a sin in the past that used to rule over you. Then you started to seek God for help, and over time, He allowed you victory over the sin. This is encouraging because if we believe in God’s promises, then there is no sin that can stand against God’s power over sin in our lives. Our victory is found in Him. And just as He has conquered the sins of our past. So will He conquer the sins and shames of our present. “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Let us focus more on His inevitable victories in our lives, and less on our weakness. It is then that, as John Piper says, “God gets the glory, and we get the joy.”
Photo: michaelgoodin, CC