The metaphor holds

Photo by Darrell Cassell via Unsplash

“It has become cliché to talk about faith as a journey, and yet the metaphor holds. Scripture doesn’t speak of people who found God. Scripture speaks of people who walked with God. This is a keep-moving, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, who-knows-what’s-next deal, and you never exactly arrive.” — Rachel Held Evans

The metaphor does hold, on so many levels. I could talk about how the bends in the road may be hiding something wonderful, or something awful, but mostly they just reveal more road that looks quite ordinary to us, until we are somewhere different.

I could talk about the people we meet along the way, how some of them walk quite a long while with us, and others just refresh us with a cup of cold water, then wave briefly and wish us well. I could talk about the people who leave, or take a different turn, or die, and don’t make it with us all the way to whatever we hope to find in this life on earth.

But when I read this quote tonight, I had a much more comical and mundane image in my mind– equally clichéd– that of a little kid asking again and again, “Are we there yet?” Usually that phrase goes with an image of kids in the back seat of a car, but imagine how much more often they might be asking that question if it were a really, really long walk.

It might be a hot day, or there might be a rainstorm, or even both. As the hours stretch on, they might have to sit down in the road awhile from sheer fatigue, and maybe even cry a little before getting up again. The parent keeps reminding the child of the dry, safe, climate-controlled rest at the end of the journey, the refreshing drinks and delicious food, but somehow all that can seem so far off as to be not quite real.

Evans was far too young when she wrote this quote to know what one feels like, say, sixty years into the journey, after protracted sorrow and too many heart-rending goodbyes. I’m guessing (though I could be wrong) that her energy level was such that the “keep-moving” uncertainty sounded a bit less daunting; that maybe she had no idea how long it can feel when we “never exactly arrive” for decades on end.

I’m sure, though, that she remembers what Hebrews 11 tells us, listing example after example of real people who walked this road before us:  “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth…the world was not worthy of them.”

If life is a long series of letting go of one idea, thing or person after another, perhaps the last thing we loosen our grip on is this notion that someday we will arrive; that we will find (or make) a perfect world.  Not on this earth, we won’t. But that same passage reminds us that these people were hoping for a better place, and God has prepared one for them — and us. I really believe that. So as long as I can, I ‘ll keep walking.

 

 

16 Comments

  1. When I got on today, I saw you had posted and I was so happy to see your smiling face. I have missed you, thought about you and sent prayers for you. Even though we haven’t been in contact, I have kept you in my prayers and heart. I do hope you are doing ok. Sending big healing hugs and lots of love xoxo

    • Hi, Misifusa! Thanks for stopping by. I too have thought of you often, especially recently when I was reading several books about sending cards and letters via regular postal mail (for a school project– that was my topic of choice. 🙂 So many people still use the postal mail, and still value hearing from friends in a non-electronic format. And of course, their comments brought you to mind. How are you? I’ll try to swing by your blog and find out. Meanwhile thanks for the hugs and love. You and my online friends truly brighten my life! ❤

  2. One foot in front of the other is often the best we can do. Beautifully said.

    • Thank you Marlene. I know you understand. ❤

  3. Janet

    Loved this on many levels.

    • Thank you my sweet friend!! Hope you and your loved ones are doing well. Give C.W. a hug for Matt and me.

  4. MaryAnn

    Praise God for your words of encouragement! I feel blessed, indeed, to believe God has prepared a place for us; and am privileged to “walk” with you! We are holding each other’s hands through your writings! Much love today!

    • Thank you, Mary Ann. You do indeed hold my hand. Today I was reading about Magi Project (our church here FINALLY started participating!) and I was remembering so fondly all those years ago when we gathered 83 boxes to send overseas…how you were IN, big time, from the moment I raised the idea. Then our fun evening at your lovely Victorian home, putting all of it together. What a wonderful memory of one of the happiest times Jeff and I ever knew: our first few months in northern California. Thanks for being here and for being YOU. ❤

      • MaryAnn

        That very special moment when we “recognized” each other as kindred spirits lives in my memory! It was at Mom’s Ladies Devo! Such a joy to put together the boxes for the Magi Project. Another wonderfully special time for me was when “my” Dentons were at a party for the teens at our Victorian. Matt helped my team WIN the Outburst game!!! Another FUN memory is playing Beyond Balderdash with Drew!!! Ah! The JOY!

        • Yes, Mary Ann, those are truly treasured memories for me too. We are blessed!!! Thanks for reminding me of that…I needed the reminder today. 🙂

  5. Harry Sims

    And everyone’s faith journey is tailor-made.
    By grace I know who this Tailor is.
    Harry

    • Harry, that’s a comforting thought, isn’t it? Because one size never did fit all. 😀

  6. Good morning, Julia!
    Thanks for this great message.
    I’ll keep walking ….
    I just realized that if I ALWAYS put my “best foot forward” well, it could cause all kinds of problems. For one, I’d look like igor(?) in “Young Frankenstein.”
    Keeping on requires an effort, and it isn’t always pretty. But you’re right that we have to keep moving, otherwise, we’d be Stuck. Right. Here.
    Thank you for walking with me.

    • Susan, I love the reference to Igor– Yes, you spelled it right, but you do remember he told Gene Wilder it was pronounced “EYE-gore?” What a hilarious movie that was. Marty Feldman was a comic genius and that movie featured several others who were equally talented. But on a more serious note, thank YOU for walking with me! I was telling my friend today about the morning about two years ago when you were sitting in my kitchen and I got a very upsetting call from my Mama. Then we took a walk (with cameras along) and sure enough, I felt much better when we got back. Walking always helps, even when our best feet are unavailable! 🙂

      • LOL Yes, I do remember the pronunciation, now that you’ve reminded me!
        I’m so glad that walk was helpful and not just “another thing” to add to your already-full plate.
        Love and hugs to you!

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