"Life is a highway," sings Tom Cochrane (although most people will likely be more familiar with the cover version performed by Rascall Flatts for the movie Cars.) I wish that were true. I'd like my life to be a smooth highway, well-lit and well-signed, with rest areas spaced conveniently, so that the journey would be as smooth and pleasant as possible. In fact, I imagine that's how most of us would like our lives to be. Certainly we do everything we can to make it this way, to remove the element of the unforeseen and the possibility of the unpleasant. We buy insurance policies, save for retirement, and plan for as many contingencies as we can think of. (At this point I'm tempted to digress into examining whether these things fit with a biblical worldview, but that's another topic.) In the process we lessen as much as possible the need to rely on God in faith.
My life, by contrast, seems to fit better the image of a winding path through the mountains. I walk this path in the night, with a small flashlight or lantern to light my way. The light cast allows me to see just enough of the path to take a step or two forward. I have a map that gives me a general sense of where I'm going. I know my ultimate destination. But I don't know exactly by what path I will get there. It's a bumpy, rough journey, filled with uncertainty and surprises and, yes, even some unpleasantries. I can only successfully walk this path by faith, trusting in the hand of the one who does see the whole path. And for purposes that I don't always understand, he only lets me see a bit of it at a time. In this way I learn to walk by faith, taking one step at a time, much as a young child who is first learning to walk constantly looks up to her parents for affirmation and assurance.
The lives of others often seem to me more like the proverbial highway mentioned earlier. Perhaps they only appear that way. Certainly many of my fellow journeyers travel paths as challenging as my own. Sometimes, okay often, I compare my path to that of others and I am tempted to complain, or feel regret, or sorrow or any number of other emotions that flow from a belief that I am somehow missing out on some blessing that I believe should be mine. But I am learning, every so slowly, to embrace the journey before me. On this journey I encounter joy and sorrow, beauty and ugliness. I have the opportunity to grow in faith. I have the privilege, if I will receive it, of getting to know the Father who leads me on this journey, who in fact walks alongside me. And along the way I also have the joy of various companions, some with me for shorter times, others for longer. When I remember to focus on these things, then I'm not so tempted to wish my life were like that highway. The path provides a better journey.
Michael Card sang a song that describes life a bit differently. He tells us that:
There is a joy in the journey
There's a life we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom to those who obey.