As I was driving home from a day’s teaching recently, I kept looking at the milometer and working out how many miles I’d travelled and how far I still had to go. My mind was racing with all the jobs I needed to do when I got home and I wanted the miles to count down much quicker than they actually were. Unexpectedly my thoughts were interrupted as I heard a loving rebuke from the Lord, “You’re always rushing ahead to the next thing and the next. I want you to enjoy the journey with me”.
I felt a bit like Martha must have felt in our reading today, but the Lord is always so kind and gracious when He convicts us, and as I repented my mind went back to the time in my life when the Lord took me through an intense period of facing the wounds of my past and receiving His cleansing and healing into those areas. It was a tremendous privilege to walk that journey with Him, but as we all know, working through negative and painful emotions, coming to forgiveness and true repentance goes against our natural inclination, and in the struggle I would often complain, “I just want to be there!” I have often heard others express that heart cry too. It might even be something that resonates with you. Back in those days the Lord challenged me to look at what I really meant by ‘be there’, and I had to confess that ‘there’ for me, meant: all fixed and healed, no more issues, no more pain! Of course, it was an unrealistic, impossible expectation. No matter how much I wanted it, I was never going to be sinless perfection!
But the Lord clearly spoke to me at that time, saying, “It’s not about an end product of healing. This is all about the journey with Me.” I hadn’t understood that, but bit by bit I began to see that there was something even more precious to be sought after than the healing I so longed for – it was the relationship with my Heavenly Father.
I’m so grateful that we have the ‘Spirit of adoption’ at work in us, crying out from within ‘Abba, Father!’ (Romans 8:15). For this is what drew me to the place of (not just knowing about, but) actually wanting and actively reaching out for the relationship with my Father God: wanting to spend time with Him, wanting to talk to Him and to hear His voice speaking to me - more than I wanted my healing. And the incredible thing is that, as the focus of my longing changed, in time I discovered the truth of Matthew 6:33 and Psalm 37:4: that all the other things I was previously so desperate for (healing of deep depression, OCD and bulimia, the ability to relate freely with family and friends, the joy of abundant life) have come as a by-product of seeking Him first.
I really thought I’d learnt the lesson that enjoying the journey with the Lord is the single most important thing! Yet here I was on the motorway and I’d joined the ranks of many of the children in the cars travelling the road with me, who were no doubt testing their parents’ patience with the oft repeated question, “Are we there yet?” I’m so grateful that ‘The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love’ towards us (Psalm 103:8).
Perhaps you’d like to join me in asking our Father God, who is the lifter of our heads, to help us today to lift our eyes from the horizontal gaze, to the vertical, upwards to Him, to our loving Heavenly Father and to give us that desire to just delight in who He is, and in being His child today.
Prayer: Father God, I confess that sometimes I’m just totally focussed on getting on to the next job on the list, or there are times when all I want is to be in a different place than I am in right now, or to somehow attain that end product of ‘healing’. My focus is on the path ahead and where I want to be. It’s a horizontal focus. Please help me to ‘choose that good part’ as Mary did: to look upwards to You instead, and enjoy Your presence with me on the journey of life, and to make my priority developing that precious relationship with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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