I wonder if you saw the 1974 movie The Great Gatsby, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. If you’re familiar with the movie, or the book, you’d know that one of its main messages is that you can’t stop the journey of life and you can’t repeat it. In other words, there’s no going back, you can’t rewind life like a tape and start again.
So in this story Gatsby wants to repeat the past, he wants to reclaim a time when he first fell in love with a beautiful young lady. He went out to war and when he came back he didn’t immediately seek her out but went into business to make a name for himself. In the meantime, she got tired of waiting for him, fell in love with a different man and got married.
Now Gatsby returns for her and discovers with horror that she’s married. So he tries to rekindle that love, hoping that she’ll leave her unfaithful husband. But, as he discovers rather painfully, he can’t reclaim the past, he can’t change the present time. Gatsby discovers that he can’t alter or stop the journey of life.
And this is what it is—life is like a journey. The past is the past, isn’t it? The present will flow into the future, hopefully, and, like it or not, if we don’t move with it, if we try to settle down and make the present like a permanent thing, it will become really frustrating. There will be the peaks and the valleys and times of droughts, moments of fear and moments of insecurity.
Breaking Into the Scene, We Wonder, ‘Now What Do I Do?’
Back in 1991 Tom Cochrane wrote a song called “Life is a Highway”. The first verses say,
Life’s like a road that you travel on,
When there’s one day here and the next day gone;
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand,
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind.
When you stop to think about it, life is definitely like a road we travel on. Life is a journey. Birth is a beginning, and death a destination. But life is a journey, growing from stage to stage. Sometimes the journey has good times, yet we know from experience it also has difficult times—the sweet and the bitter, the long and sometimes the short journey. It’s a sad experience to read death notices in a newspaper and see that not everyone who dies is an older person.
In the centre of a large poster was the picture of a chick standing wild-eyed in front of its broken shell. The chick had just broken out of its shell and is standing there all alone curiously looking all around. At the bottom, in large, bold letters the caption read: Now what do I do? This is the picture of every one of us. We break out upon the scene. We did not ask to be here. We did nothing to get here. We begin to wonder: Now what do I do? That question starts us out on a journey which hopefully will last a long time. But where will it take us?
What is life like? One person said this: Life is like a box of chocolates you don’t know what you get till you open it up. Someone else said that life is like a book that we write as we go. These ideas are good. Yet I believe the most significant answer is life is like a journey. We are only passing through this world like someone on a world trip, and one day we will come to the end. And then what?
Like Life, Faith Is A Journey
Faith is a journey. Rarely is it straightforward; rarely is it easy; often it has so many twists and turns, roadblocks and speed humps that it is hard to see where God is leading and what he’s up to. There does seem to be a trend these days for spiritual seeking, people are more open to asking questions about faith, and seeking alternative paths to peace or enlightenment as its called. There is a searching that many are engaged in.
Our lives are filled with all sorts of journeys; short journeys, long journeys; journeys in our minds and hearts; journeys toward God and away from God; journeys that are as trivial as a trip to the store, or as powerful and life changing as a trip to the hospital to witness the miracle of birth. Our lives are made up of such journeys; journeys that shape and mould us into who we are today. Life itself is a journey that begins at birth and ends with death. There are hills and valleys along the way as well a sudden turns and surprises.
I discovered in the Bible a wonderful verse from 1 Peter 1:18 from The Message paraphrase, where Peter says, “Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God”. That’s a very modern way of putting it. The journey of life is full of unexpected encounters that will challenge our faith in God. On some days we will be turned around. On others, we will have the wind knocked out of us. We are prone to stumble and fall, be wounded, make mistakes, and wonder where God is in the midst of all that swirls around us.
In Matthew 7:13-14 (The Voice) Jesus says:
There are two paths before you; you may take only one path. One doorway is narrow. And one door is wide. Go through the narrow door. For the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it; but the wide, broad, easy, crowded path leads to death. Now then that narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to life. It is hard to find that road. Not many people manage it.
In other words, life presents two roads—the broad and the narrow road. This road leads to a fulfilling life now and eternal life in the future. There’s love, joy, peace, and the abiding presence of God. It’s a journey worth taking. The Psalmist said, “And so I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!” (Psalm 116:9 – NLT)