After writing about the subject of faith last week in my column, a dear friend sent me this quote: “Faith is the bridge between where I am and the place God is taking me.”
I believe that to be true. Christians are depicted in many writings and sermons as being “on a journey.” Going back as far as “Pilgrim’s Progress,” one of the first Christian books I ever read, the journey is mentioned often, and we meet various people and obstacles along the way in the allegory. John Bunyan (1628-1688), an English Christian writer and preacher, wrote “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” Bunyan was a Reformed Baptist but is also remembered by the Church of England with a Lesser Festival on Aug. 30, and on liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (US) on Aug. 29.
“The Pilgrim’s Progress” has been printed in more than 200 languages and has never been out of print since its first presentation. The allegory was first printed in February 1678 and was initially distributed in two main sections.
My dear Uncle Donald Baughcum of Atlanta, Ga., was always noted in our family for helping to ensure that all of us children saw the sights available to be seen when we were with him in the car, that we visited all of the unusual or interesting places in the area, and attended the various plays, games, presentations and events that time and finances would allow. Often, we would spend an entire afternoon walking in the woods discovering leaves, trees, sometimes small animals, or simply enjoy a flowing little creek or stream.
One of the things that nearly drove our Aunt Minnie over the edge was that when one traveled with Uncle Donald, you seldom, if ever, took the same route twice. We could be going to the grocery story and travel to and from on completely different roads. Only when we saw our street or sometimes the house itself did we know we were nearing home. He loved adventure and learning until the day he died. Many of the family members joked that traveling with Uncle Donald always meant you’d take “the scenic route.” In other words, you would not necessarily know where you were, but you could bet your bottom dollar you’d have fun and see something you’d likely never seen before.
And of course, choosing the scenic route or the road less traveled often took much more gasoline, sometimes purchased food, and always time. I never remember one time his stopping to ask for directions. We would just wind around until where we got where he wanted us to be and then finally home. But the things we saw and learned are still with me today, even after Uncle Donald has gone on to heaven.
Our Christian journey often involves taking “the scenic route,” too. We may not get where we are going in a direct line, from point to point or as the crow flies. God has designed this journey for each of us, and I find great delight in knowing that He often deems it necessary for us to take “the scenic route,” but look at what we’ve seen, the people we’ve met, and the fun we’ve had along the way. I would not have it any other way, even if I could.
The secret is to realize early on that our Guide knows the way He has chosen, the paths He has perfected, and the pitfalls we will face. We are promised that He will be with us every step of the way. Some days it is easier to forget that He is in charge than others.
If we had the time and space to interview dozens of Christians who are trying to live for the Lord on a daily basis, I would surmise that the one thing we would all have in common is that we did not get to where God led us by a direct route. More often than not, God chooses to lead us by way of a scenic route. There are often detours, broken roads, and indirect diversions.
When we start out to serve the Lord in any venture, whether it is teaching a child’s Sunday school class, working in an Awana program, serving as a camp counselor, or even taking on the heavy duties of filling a pulpit, we most likely experienced detours that took us off course, sent us an entirely different direction, or caused us time-consuming delays. Perhaps we fretted about each of them along the way. Only now in my life do I realize more fully that God had a plan for me the entire time. He has one for you, too, so enjoy the journey as we travel by faith to where He is leading us each day.Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.