I confess – my Christmas decorations are still out. This should not be that much of a surprise given that I am a procrastinator and given that I was still decorating right up to the twenty-fifth when I decided I was done. So some decorations haven’t been out that long and I need more time to enjoy them. Maybe my standard should be, when there are no longer any Hallmark Christmas movies on TV, then my Christmas decorations should be packed away. But by that standard, I don’t think my decorations would ever come down.
So what to do? Maybe I will use my “a decoration a day” approach in reverse to transition back to pre-Advent decor. But what then? With Advent over what am I preparing for? An empty calendar hangs on my wall and empty days stretch out ahead of me. Schools are still closed along with so many restaurants and businesses and events, such as meetings, conventions, conferences, concerts, plays etc. will not be taking place as they have in the past. Many possible travel destinations come to mind, but travel doesn’t seem to be possible today.
So what’s a journey without a destination? Or more accurately, maybe without a destination there is no need for a journey. Without a journey, stagnation sets in and growth stops. Without growth, living things die. We are meant to keep on growing throughout our lives. Physical growth may stop, but mental, emotional and spiritual growth are lifetime pursuits. So the good news is, our journeys are not over. There is always more to learn, more to experience, more to be done. I have found this to be particularly true as I journey towards and pursue knowing God.
God is infinite in His Being and in all His attributes, so I will never fully know Him. But my pursuit of Him will certainly last a lifetime, a lifetime filled with new revelations of my Heavenly Father, yet always more to learn, more to discover about His character, about His ways, about Him. Paul knew this was a lifetime pursuit, a lifetime journey or just maybe the journey of a lifetime. We can read what Paul said about his “after Advent” journey (meaning after Paul met Jesus while traveling on the road to Damascus) in Philippians 3:12-14,
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Paul presses on because he has not yet arrived at his journey’s end. Paul was not stagnate, he did not stand still, mistakenly thinking that he had already been made perfect. No, Paul stated clearly that he would “press on toward the goal to win the prize.” His journey wasn’t over and neither is mine. I just need some direction in this uncharted new year so that I don’t wander off the path or journey in the wrong direction.
It occurs to me that my direction is determined by where my focus falls. These words from Hebrews 12:3 seem particularly relevant,
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
So, as I find my way on my after Advent journey, I am to keep my eyes on Jesus. Furthermore I am instructed to,
” . . . throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us (me) run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (me)”
I am to run the race marked out for me, not for someone else, not for anyone else. I am called to run the race God has prepared for me, not to attempt to run someone else’s race in shoes I was not meant to wear. I can take to heart God’s words to the Israelites when they were captives in Babylon. God told them,
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)
There’s my word HOPE, something God says He plans to give me. That is a gift I definitely desire. My life feels like it’s on hold today. And actually on so many days in these COVID controlled times, it feels that way to me. I long to be in motion, searching, pursuing, journeying, discovering, growing, walking, running, soaring – anything but standing stagnate. Today I may only be able to take a few steps on my journey, but tomorrow I want to run with perseverance the race God has marked out for me.
How do I do that? One day at a time, one step at a time. And I have hope in God’s promise to me given in these words in Isaiah 40:31,
“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
walking, running, soaring . . . let the journey continue!
sincerely, Grace Day