Life is a journey. Psalm 23 says, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
Sounds like quite the journey, doesn't it? So here are a few "travel tips" for those of you on the journey.
1. Keep your eye on the ultimate destination...
We will face a lot of challenges "camping out" in this world, but heaven is our home. It's so easy to get down about stuff when all we can see are today's issues and problems. Keeping our eyes up on God and maintaining an eternal perspective can really make a big difference when we're drilled down into day to day life. 2 Corinthians 5:1 says, "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal home in heaven, not built by human hands."
2. Stay fueled up for the journey...
It's impossible to make progress on the journey to your ultimate home unless you have the right "gas" in your tank. That means tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible, baptism and communion provide the essential fuel mix for your journey and will deliver an ample supply of the Spirit into your heart. But remember, you have to turn the engine off to refuel. Imitate Mary, who said "no" to constant busyness and sat at Jesus feet, listening to his words: "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42, NIV)
Here are some practical ways to put these first two tips into practice in your life:
- Worship regularly - every week if possible. At CrossWalk i'ts our pledge to you that we will provide Biblical, relevant worship each and every week, with a laser focus on eternal issues.
- Commit to CrossWalk's class system. Our Starting Point through 501 classes offer you the opportunity to grow in faith and give you the essentials you need for your walk with Christ.
- Carve out some time in your day for meditation and prayer. Many of us at CrossWalk like to start the day by reading the Bible, taking time to think deeply about the words being read, and sometimes even journaling thoughts. And there's no better way to start a day than with God's word and asking God for his strength to power us through the day.
3. Commit to actually following God's roadmap for your life...
Following God's roadmap will mean doing a couple of things that are critical to success. Like knowing that your full, spiritual roadmap isn't located on your GPS, but between the covers of the Bible. Like having the roadmap in mind at all times, not just when we're at church. And like asking for direction and strength and courage. When we do that of God, it's called prayer. When we do it of fellow Christ-followers, it's called fellowship. The apostle James talks about the importance of both prayer and fellowship: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:16, NIV)
4. Turn around when you're on the wrong road...
This one may sound obvious, but I've learned that when it comes to real life, it isn't always as obvious as it might seem. British politican Denis Healey once put it this way, "When you're in a hole, stop digging."
In the Bible this is referred to as repentance. It means "changing our mind." And in repentance, not one, but two changes of mind will actually take place. First we change our mind about sin. What we formerly saw as a source of pleasure or profit, we now see as a source of punishment, grief and loss. We begin to realize that what Isaiah says is true, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God." (Isaiah 59:2, NIV)
Second, we change our mind about salvation and recognize Jesus Christ as the true source of salvation. I stop thinking I can bring about my own salvation by being a good person, or following God's rules, and simply rest in God's unfailing love, the very love that caused him to send his Son Jesus for me. Psalm 147:10-11 reveals God's heart: "His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love."
Some practical ways to put these final two tips into play in your life are:
- Have a group of 3-4 trusted Christian friends you can confide in and pray with. Then trust them and open up. Authentic relationships can really help us follow God's roadmap, and will help us understand when we're on the wrong road.
- Have a daily time set aside for prayer and repentance, so that you can spend a little time taking out your "spiritual garbage" each day. That way the garbage doesn't "stack up."
- Help yourself to rest in God's promises by memorizing 2 or 3 short passages that express the confidence, the joy and the hope we all have in Christ. Romans 8:28 is a great place to start.
There they are, your travel tips. We hope you enjoy the journey!