Squiggled blue and red lines crisscross between Kansas City and our destination. The map divides my screen into roads and rivers. I know where I’m headed, but I don’t know the route.
This morning I read the story of King Hezekiah. I have always liked it because he was a man of repentance and prayer.
“I have heard your prayer,” God tells Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah, “I have seen your tears;…” (Is. 38:5 NKJV)
I would love to hear those tender words from God, “I have heard you, and I have seen your tears…”
As much as I love the story, it always ends the same, with the part that leaves me uncomfortable.
“…surely I will add to your days fifteen years.”
Hezekiah took his borrowed time to parade his wealth. He sinned.
And the Lord of hosts said, “The days are coming when all that is in your house and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord, ‘And they shall take away some of your sons…’” (Is. 39:6-7 NKJV)
It is not a happy ending.
I’m not a king. I don’t have a prophet. I have no idea how long my life will be, but I know my final destination. I will be in the presence of God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure how that will look, but I know it to be true.
Along the path to getting there however, it is easy to lose my way, to become sidetracked, and to feel ready to quit. I find distractions. Detours batter my progress. Worries weigh like heavy grocery bags inside my gut. Relationships evolve, sometimes awkward and hurtful. Envy and grief plague.
Stumbling blocks of life hinder my path. I squint toward the end as if I am in a seventeen kilometer mile tunnel under the Swiss Alps, or stuck in an underpass in a storm.
I pull out my journal and write down how I want it to look when I come out the other side when things settle down, when the trial is over, when the relationship changes, and when the joy is sweet again.
- I want my faith to be stronger.
- I want my love for Christ to be deeper.
- I do not want bitterness, blame or envy to knit themselves into my thoughts and my heart.
The list is long. I want a lot.
- I want my spirit to be sweet.
- I want grace and mercy to flow from me to others.
- I want my life to point people to Jesus.
I sit back and think of time. I don’t want to waste it. I don’t want to be a Hezekiah.
I’d much rather be like the two on the road to Emmaus after Jesus rose from the dead.
“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Lk. 24:32 ESV)
They also shed tears. Jesus heard their prayers and knew their sorrow. Although they didn’t recognize the Creator of the heavens and the earth, He taught them and loved them as they walked the road together. He took them to where they thought their destination would end, but it became a starting point.
I want to recognize Jesus on this road even when I don’t see Him.
I open my journal again and title the page: Things Jesus can teach me from this.
- I can learn to do things for Jesus alone.
- I can learn to depend on Jesus for my value and validation.
- I can learn to think the best about others.
- I can learn to seek Jesus’ favor.
- I can learn to not gossip or talk disparagingly about others.
- I can learn to be more discerning about others.
- I can learn to not judge others, but try to understand them.
- I can learn to surrender to Jesus more fully and constantly.
- I can learn to remember Who is to be exalted.
- I can learn to be purposed and focused on what is truly important.
- I can learn to love for Christ’s sake and pray for those who hurt me.
The list grows, nurtured like one of my grandchildren to whom I say, “You’ve grown. You’re so big!”
I add the final one and my pen smacks the paper like a smoking gun.
- I will not give place to the Devil! (Eph. 4:27). I say it out loud in the quiet room just to reinforce it in my own soul.
None of this writing and pondering and determining assures that I don’t get stuck in roundabouts, cesspools of blame, comparisons or despair. But, it lifts my eyes from where my feet stick in mire to a wider horizon, a bigger picture, and a road less twisty.
And then I write the most personal list of all.
I write the disciplines that by God’s grace I will accomplish this day, the blessings I will pray, help I will offer, and thanks I surrender.
Because I want to end well at the right destination, with Jesus in front, behind and on both sides.