Our daughter-in-law, Gwen, is creative, resourceful, thoughtful … and a really good Mom. So, when preparing for a thousand-mile family trip, she came up with some clever ways to help their two-year-old daughter not only endure the drives, but enjoy them as much as she could. Next to Abigail was a box teeming with her favorite books, and when she tired of them for a time, out came the stash of stickers, always fun. If the stickers also ran their course, there was a “cookie sheet and magnets” solution (which might have actually engrossed me for a time). It was a very compassionate thing Gwen did for a young child facing a long journey.
Sometimes in life we feel like a kid on a car ride. We want to become what we want to become, now; we want to achieve what we want to achieve, now; we want to arrive where we want to arrive, now. The actual journey we travel, however, and the speed at which we traverse it are anything but the straight-line, no-stops path to paradise we envisioned at the onset. We navigate twists and turns we never anticipated; we encounter detours and delays we never wanted. In charitable terms, we “take the scenic route,” and, eventually, something inside cries out in frustration, “Are we there yet? How much longer?”
God’s itinerary is always different than our own—far better, and far better for us. He turns our twists into humility, and steers our turns into hope. He builds perspective from our detours, and instills patience through our delays. In time, we “arrive,” not in a worldly sense, as in fame and fortune, but at a far more satisfying place—the kingdom of God, His fulfilling reign in our lives.
So, the apostle James says, “Be patient … stand firm … don’t grumble.” He compels us to consider those who have gone before us—the prophets who persevered to the end, and Job, who endured to restoration. God is in this journey with us, just as He was with them; He knows our trip can be arduous, frustrating, and painful at times, so He diverts our attention away from ourselves, and He sets our sites on the glory that lies ahead and toward the care of those who sojourn with us. For, says James, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
God, this journey is full of beauty at times, and painfully difficult at others. Draw me to yourself and in service to others today, that I might endure, they might flourish, and you would be glorified. Thank you for your compassion and care for me. In Christ, I pray. Amen.
[Click here to read today’s Scripture in James 5:7-11.]