On the plane is a very special young man. The journey he has undertaken begins today yet the destination is two days away. He leaves here in mid afternoon and bumps across the country and the ocean to land in another country in the wee hours of our night to only take off again with a further destination in mind. In that particular part of the world, he will surely stand head and shoulders above all and his coloring and culture will be in total opposition.
Having taken a similar journey before, I pride myself in thinking that I know what he must be feeling. But how can I truly know? He is different to me in gender, in age, in physical ability, in goals and in life experience. So it is possible, if not probable, that the pride that guides me in thinking that I know what he must be feeling is leading me down the wrong road altogether.
I do remember being on that plane and being so excited about what was to come that what was left behind dimmed in my reality. Not that the events or the people that led up to this journey was insignificant; it’s just that the future and the journey were more sharply relevant to me than the present trials and the past accomplishments. I remember thinking at that point in time how cool it would be if some freak of nature prevented me from returning, so happy was I in the moment and content altogether with all possibilities. You see, the departure point and the point of destination were not the issue. It was the journey that I was enraptured with. I was on a mission and Sovereignty was in ultimate control. I had no fear to hold me back.
The journey of faith begins with a call to leave behind all that means security. The journey of faith begins with a call to let go of all sources of control and power. When fear seemed to rear its ugly head, it served only to fuel perseverance to the end.
The journey of faith changes the one embarking on the journey more than any others who are involved, though there may be those along the way that are inspired. This young man on a plane for the next two days has goals in mind and certainly intends to effect change along the way but in fact, he will be the one who will be most changed.
Upon his return, there will be more clarity in his identity than ever before. Stripped away of those things he relies on, he will come face to face with who he is, and who he is not. When he returns, he may be more discontent for he may find that what he left behind and returned to may no longer be enough, may no longer fulfill him. The culture shock of returning here from where he will be in two days will rock his world for months to come. He will suffer and strive more when he returns than when he is abroad.
The journey will be a journey of discovery not only of a world on the other side of the world but of a world on the other side of his heart than he has ever known. He knows the heart he is familiar with only too well, but it is the undiscovered heart, the hidden heart where he will experience the greatest culture shock. For once the hole in his heart has been explored will he find the courage and the joy of being himself. He has been wrestling with himself, much like when Jacob wrestled with the angel. May it be that when he returns, he too can say, “I have struggled with God and with people, and I have overcome.”
Is it necessary to board a plane and embark on a two-day transition to arrive at a destination that is foreign and potentially threatening to you in every way in order to overcome? I should say not. But the journey of faith will never begin as long as you are comfortably cuddled safely and at home with your fear. The certain knowledge and surety of who you are will never be established as long as you are clothed and accessorized, enmeshed and embroiled in the meaning and the purpose of others.
The journey of life is full of twists and turns, misadventures and discoveries, take offs and landings. Where we started and if we arrive with all our luggage intact is not the issue. To be honest, luggage only slows you down. The journey of life is all about when Love calls your name and how freely you respond when you’ve been given a ticket with your name on it. Do not be surprised if your name has been changed when home you have returned.