If Eugene Peterson were to re-remix his Message version of the Bible, surely he’d need to throw in the phrase “faith journey” a couple of times in the New Testament. Paul would also advise his listeners to “live in the tension,” but that’s another post about Christian trends.
Anyway, when you refer to your faith these days, it’s incomplete to simply call it that. It’s now a faith journey. And for good reason – faith is not a state of arrival but rather an extended trip that always has you moving – sometimes up, sometimes down, and sometimes backwards. Rarely are you still.
I work (soon to be worked) with teenagers and young adults. I spend A LOT of time with them. And I have to admit one of the most difficult things to accept is that they are on an incredible journey in this part of their lives, and unfortunately that journey MUST include them testing the boundaries, reacting against what’s going on and rebellion. It is difficult to not get frustrated with them and to remember how essential it is they do these explorations and tests.
It’s so easy to lose patience, especially with people who are early on in the journey. Though this is most noticeable in youth – in spiritual terms you can see it at any age. They seem naive, reckless and they question everything. They push the limits just to see where they are and they’ll argue and debate until the cows are on your plate.
I know that for me, I just want them to “arrive” already. I get tired of the journey. The term journey implies a meandering, which implies this won’t be the most efficient process. We all know the “journey is the destination” but patience doesn’t grow on trees.
I wanted to make this point back during my unofficial “he’s a friend of sinners!” series – that we want to love people where we want them to be – not where they are. In other words we often imply we will love and accept you WHEN you arrive at this conclusion. Which means we could be waiting a while, and even further it means we don’t really love them.
Remember when churches would say “Hey you can wear blue jeans” and have big banners that read “come as you are”? That means God, and hopefully therefore his people, accept people where they are no matter what stage they are in, and they accept them no matter how long it may take, no matter how many wrong turns are taken and no matter if they don’t fall exactly in our understanding of the world.
So I don’t have a monumental point to all this, I simply think we could all use the reminder to give some grace to the travelers among you, for they will not always be where they are – they will move on. Not only that, but the only way for them to continue on in their journey is to first be where they are right then. There is no leap frog, there is not cutting in line – you only move forward by being where you are, even if only for a split second.