God's Destination

July 1st, 2010
Image © by Your Alter Ego (Angelica Lasala) | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

People seem almost obsessed today with getting exactly where they want to go in the shortest amount of time following the most direct routes. Technology in GPS (global positioning system) units and cell and smart phones precisely locates vehicles and tracks their movement. Drivers can adjust a GPS unit’s screen, zooming in to reveal exact street and destination locations or zooming out incrementally to display a wider view representing rivers, lakes, and miles of vast terrain.

Most drivers appear to keep their devices zoomed closely in rather than out, focused on the next turn, the next intersection, the road just ahead. In city driving, the immediate destination is the primary concern. But on longer trips, the wider view enhances the journey. It reveals not only current location but also where the vehicle has been and where it has yet to travel. The trip itself, with its landmarks and sites and signs, becomes as significant as the final destination. 

As people of faith, we live with a similar, zoom-in, zoom-out tension. We anticipate the new heaven and new earth the writer of Revelation describes (Revelation 21). But what happens along the way; what we think, say, do, and fail to do; who we are and become—all are significant markers on our journey.

As God’s people moved to occupy the land God had promised them, they sometimes laid stones in a certain place to mark a noteworthy event or a time of covenant renewal or to serve as a witness of their service to the Lord (See, for example, Joshua 4; 8:30-35; 24:26-27). These stones meant something at those times, but they also served to teach future generations. While the people’s destination was certain and they traveled securely within God’s grasp and gaze, their journey was anything but fast and direct. Disobedience to God’s instructions led to oppression and delays; repentance and renewed faithfulness allowed them to move closer to their promised destination and finally take possession of it.

Reading Old Testament stories of God's people allows us to zoom into the ancient biblical accounts of their journeys. They also challenge us to zoom out for the broader view that helps us place our lives and faith journeys within the larger picture. As we do, we can identify times in our own lives where we might place symbolic stones of commitment and renewal. For God’s people of every place and time, arriving at the destination God intends for us, living into the promises God has for us, comes from faithful obedience to God’s instructions along the way. “Revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; …choose this day whom you will serve, …as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14-15).

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