MELISSA, Texas (BP)–Each of us is on a spiritual journey. Do you know which step you are on? Are you on the first step? The second? The 19th? Are you nearing the last turn? Are you lost somewhere in the middle?
On your journey, you may be on one of the later steps, getting closer each day to the finish line. Your friend, however, might be just starting out, eager and excited about the unknown promised in future steps. Others might be in the tough middle stage, wondering when they will reach the downhill portion of the race.
We all face a journey, a heavenly trek through this earthly life. The earthly decisions we make in this adventure are determined by our spiritual beliefs. To successfully meander through the unknowns of the journey, there are several important truths we must all understand.
First, you can’t make it alone. Ironically, the spiritual life is an individual race run as a group. I can’t run for you and you can’t run for me, but we can run together. If we run together, we can help up those who fall and speed up those who fall behind. Loneliness is a dangerous distraction on the journey of life and God wants His children to run in groups. These groups, providing safety and comfort, are called churches, helping you navigate the winding paths of the journey called life.
Second, you must recognize which step you are currently on and ask for advice on moving to the next step. If you are unaware of which step you currently stand on, you won’t know how to move to the next step. People on step one, just beginning to find their way, need to study the guidebook, called the Bible, to discover advice that will keep them safe and help them choose the proper route. Those currently occupying later steps of the journey would do well to turn around and see if they can encourage one or two new runners to keep running.
Third, God is not finished with you. He wants you to move to the next step, and then the next step, wanting to teach you more about Himself and His plan for your life. If you are 16 years old today, God is not finished with you. If you are 36 or 56 or 76, God is not finished with you either and will not accept you giving up the race. He will let you know when your race is over. Until then, get back up and find your race partners and ask Him for advice on the next step to take.
Finally, please remember all the paths do not end up in the same place. Many of your fellow runners will want you to believe that all spiritual paths are equal and that while they take different routes, they all culminate in the presence of God in a real place called heaven. While this sounds safe and happy and reassuring, it is illogical and tragically mistaken. In John 14:6, Jesus of Nazareth stated, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”
As you run your race, as you make progress on your journey, understand that the ultimate destination is at the feet of God the Creator, and He will not ask you how fast you ran or how gracefully you handled the obstacles. While God will be pleased if you helped direct other runners and looked out for fellow travelers, He will not grant access to His heaven based upon your manners along the way. Instead, He will ask you only one question –- did you ask My Son Jesus to be your guide?
Trey Graham is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Melissa, Texas (www.firstmelissa.com) and author of “Lessons for the Journey” and “Light for the Journey.” He can be reached at [email protected].