Friday, January 15, 2016

Alongside Me

I’ve spent a good part of the week going through things that I need to get rid of, set aside for later or give away. No it didn’t involve material things, although I’m still making headway on my paperwork.  

Emotional luggage being unloaded has cleared room for some enjoyment of things that I let slide merely because I’ve been too busy.  It all started with my mapping out my day, or should I say my journey such as it was. 

What I have come to realize is that I’m tired of not “loving” every part of my life, and want the journey to be better. So that means I’ve got more to learn in order for that to happen, and it involves me doing the changing. 

No matter where I look lately, God has been putting these “journey” people in front of me. Their stories may be interesting, but there were certain things they had in common and other things that were plain dumb to me.  

During all of this I shared my thoughts with a dear friend, 

“My walk with Jesus is becoming very narrow, putting other things behind to stay focused on my calling.  If Jesus were to come today would I find I spent time on the journey rather than the destination?  Or is the journey more important, knowing the destination?  

Can I briefly share some stories with you? I hope so, because this is part of what God’s put on my heart to share this week. 

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“Nothing’s going to stop me. I’m going to go it alone …” 

Have you ever said that? I suppose we all have over some things, but what about life itself?  Why is it that we think we can journey through life untouched by human emotion or feelings?  Are we that bold to think we have the power to conquer every challenge on our own without the help of a single soul? 

I’d like to share with you some people that I have come to know or learned about over the years.  Each has a true story to tell, but not all stories are what I’d call “a journey of a lifetime.”  

1 - Jessie 

Jessie is definitely the adventurous type of character, and after forty years he’s still game for a road trip.
 
While in his teens he had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel the world, well at least a good part of it.  Any boy would delight in this type of adventure and he was determined not to miss out on it. 

He described trail blazing after pleading for permission from his parents, with the argument of finishing his education early so he could gain employment in his field.  It worked.  After twelve months of careful planning of every stop and gathering supplies, the trip begin over difficult terrain by truck and then freighter traveling with companions throughout Asia, Australia, and the Middle East.   

2 - Paul

For years Paul had a burden for souls in Africa. Without funding or cultural training he blindly set out from America to an unknown land leaving his established career behind.  Although his final destination was planned, by faith he believed everything else was in the hands of God. 

Serving God was difficult, not because of will power, but an absence of emotional and financial support. It only took a few years before Paul returned to the states.  He believes he still has a call on his life, but is living in unrest and confusion. 

3 - Mark 

Mark has been blessed in being able to travel to over 80 countries for business trips and pleasure.  His focus is to run a business so that he could visit every nation on earth without any restraints, being able to come and go as he pleases.  
 
For the past ten years life has been a carefree dream not having to answer to anyone and doing whatever he wants, whenever he desires. 

Occasionally he has a friend or two along for the trip, but for the bulk of his experiences he goes at it alone.  No chance of getting caught up in relationships for him that would slow him down. 

4 - Greg 

He was used to having anything he wanted, never lacking for provision when he was growing up in corporate America.  Through his business travels one of Greg’s trips was interrupted and landed him in Asia where he met the “least of these Jesus’ of the poor.” (Matthew 25:31-46 
 

“… Assuredly, I (Jesus) say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

Totally changed by what he saw Greg knew God wanted him to do more. Leaving his well-to-do lifestyle, he and his wife moved to the slums of Cambodia.  They would live alongside the children to share Jesus through food, spiritual comfort and Christ’s love. 

What Happened Along the Journey?

Not all travels turn out like we plan do they?  Circumstances and situations come and go determining how things turn out and which path we end up traveling.  Read what I mean.
 
Since the initial trip many years ago, Jessie's life has taken on one of adventure, but it doesn't involve long distance travel and is full of detours.  Somehow he has gotten stuck along the journey and the plans have changed.  Unlike his first adventure, most of life is traveled alone.
 
Paul always felt that his desire to serve the people of Africa meant he was supposed to physically go there.  What he didn’t realize is that his affluent career allowed him to be a financial support for someone who God did call to serve overseas.  His continual support would be seeds for the souls that he so wanted to win to the Lord.  His journey showed him that he was to stay put and serve locally by giving into his church, community and ministry outreaches. 

Our young traveler Mark really isn’t set on a journey that is caught up with relationships or add-on’s (extra people baggage).  He simply wants to travel when and wherever he wants, and does so.   

There is no goal or final destination, just give him the opportunity and Mark is on his way to anywhere.  In other words, he doesn’t want anyone alongside him at any point along the road.  That would mean he would have to compromise, listen to and care about the other people that came across his path.  

It’s been over fifteen years now since Greg and his wife moved.  Their obedient travels produced favor from God and man along their pathway.  That favor made way to establish a ministry which has spread beyond Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Africa.  Their work has extended to include local churches to help young Christians in their walk with Jesus.
 

Threads Uncommon 

Jessie and Paul knew which journey they wanted to take and did what they could to make it happen. Both knew about their destination however neither were led by the Holy Spirit.  They did what they “felt” was right or a good opportunity.  

Paul had the right motive, but didn’t wait for instruction, unlike Jessie who listened to the adults in his life and his journey turned out to be a good one for that time.  His issues didn’t come until many years later trying to re-live things of his youth without the aid of Jesus alongside him.   

The Bible tells us about the journey Moses took with God and how he moved as the Spirit led. He too had a specific destination following the travel route God laid out for the Israelites.  He didn’t know how long it would take to get from point A to B, but trusted in God for everything.  

Both Mark and Greg had the financial means to travel. Both left their homeland for uncharted territory, but only Greg’s was a true journey with Jesus.  Like Abraham he left all he knew and obeyed God.  He moved throughout the years across land as the Lord directed, not knowing what he would find at the other end of the road. Obedience opened favor doors for both Abraham and Greg’s family.  His journey alongside Jesus continues. 

Is this a Journey?

As children of God we too are on a journey.  Our final destination of Heaven is known, but the “deets” (details) and itinerary are being revealed piece by piece.  This is why traveling with Jesus makes sense. He knows the entire plan and can take us safely to each port along the way. 

Something all the journeyers learned quickly is that they had to travel light in order to keep up with their schedules.  Some had to abandon their belongings, plans and homeland if it were to be a real adventure with Christ. 

They had to trust more, overcome fear and step out to get on with their journey.  There was no lagging behind.  A journey is not like a quick vacation or trip where you’re away from all you know for short amounts of time.  On a vacation not much is unknown.  You know where you’re going, for approximately how long, places you want to visit or avoid, where you'll lodge and the rough cost for such a trip. 

Even your clothing is pretty much laid out depending on the climate during the seasons you travel.  The only real surprises may be in unplanned daily activities.  If at any time you are unsatisfied you simply return home. 

Although such trips may be fun, could this really be classified as an adventure journey if you know practically everything in advance? 

Trip, Vacation or Journey … Which was it? 

From the examples can you tell which ones were more of a trip than a journey?  In all situations each relied on good relationships, even if some were short lived (very short in Mark’s case). 

Some examples had great support a few didn’t.  The first excursion had nothing to do with faith, but a desire to finish their education quickly. The second sought God and still is on a journey hoping one day to find answers. 

Paul had wavering faith and the lack of solid knowledge hearing from God for the journey.  He wanted to serve Jesus, but forgot about the relationship for the journey. 
 
Greg seemed to be the only one of these four that after he met Jesus, he wanted to stay alongside the Lord for the journey no matter the cost or where it led.  He’s having a glorious time regardless to what the world would see as “living a life of poverty.” 

We are all at various points along our journey; I’ve traveled a few of them myself. Where are you?  Which example fits you the best?   

All journeys have some things in common, such as a willingness to step out to travel and along the travels relationships are bound to be formed in some way. 

In John chapter one Jesus invited the disciples to “follow me.”  They accepted and for 3½ years they learned, received instructions and stepped out to journey with Jesus leaving family, business and worries behind. They didn’t know where their journey would take them, but by faith they took the challenge to journey with Jesus. 

From God to Abraham to Jesus to You 

As Christians our journey is to be more like our forefathers (Abraham and Moses) who walked with God, only our road continues with God’s Son Jesus by our side. The Holy Spirit will keep guiding us as He did Moses if we let Him. 

Although we don’t know all the plans, our destination is set in Heaven. (Hebrews 11) All we lack are the details as we travel.  

It’s true, what God has planned for us requires walking by faith, not by sight.  Our travel plans are sure to be full of surprises, excitement, hard at times, unpredictable, stressful, exhilarating, favor rich and by far more challenging than we planned.  

God will indeed place people who we will need at every point, but this is the best news of all. There is a better relationship to build. We won’t be traveling alone, but will have Jesus alongside all the way.
 
We know the destination …
 focus on the journey that prepares us for it.
 

This Week’s Challenge:
Leave the Itinerary to Jesus 

Upon waking each morning I have an idea of what I need to do and what I’d like to accomplish.  With these things in mind I ask the Lord to direct my steps and that everything I do is part of His plan for my journey with Christ. 

Our challenge this week is to let go of our itinerary and pick up God’s. 

There’s no getting around it; this is where we all have to begin … in prayer. Go before the Lord and tell God you’re sorry for trying to make your own way and to forgive you of your sins.  

Stop trying to plan your journey.  Enjoy each place you are along the way beginning with today. I’m not telling you to “bloom where you’re planted” kind of thing.  That’s something different. 

Instead, start to look at each situation as an opportunity God has placed before you as part of your journey with Him for that particular day. 

You don’t have the itinerary, so why not “sight see” literally and by faith.  What’s in front of you right now is what God wants you to see.  It’s all He is revealing at the moment, so there must be something important you need to learn or do at this stop in the travel. 

Rest, live, love, embrace all around you. It may be the only time you will see this place (literally and figuratively). Move as the Holy Spirit moves, don’t get ahead of Him or pick up more baggage (by judging, rationalizing, developing an “It’s about me attitude”).  

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD.
They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT) 

We have to trust God for and with our life on our journey with Jesus. He won’t force us to do it; after all, it’s our life as a “free will” agent, but He wants to be there for every step. God wants to make our dreams a reality, and knows which paths will make it happen.  He knows if we have faith for His favor and when we don’t. 

Don’t get ahead of Jesus thinking you can do it on your own. 

It’s no less a journey if we travel it with someone else. Why not let it be Jesus? God’s faithfulness and favor will provide what is needed and our travels will be more FAVOR-able!

Where You go I’ll go, where You stay I’ll stay.

When You move I’ll move, where you serve I’ll serve.

... with You alongside me!
 
 
I Will Follow by Christ Tomlin
 

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    Until next time, God’s favor is alongside you!
 

“My favor is with you for the journey.”
Jesus Christ 

*The names in articles are changed to protect the individual(s) privacy. 

Note: The words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives. 

Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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by Rev Joseph Cuoco

 

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Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy.
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Gateway Bible.
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Image:  Love Life  Adventure World Map  World Traveler Journey with Jesus
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