“Can you just get to the point?”
Ever have those thoughts go through your head? Under the right circumstances you might even allow them to come out.
Some people have a tendency to elaborate on what they are trying to say – me included. The details of a story become an integral part of the events. Maybe it is the writer in me. All I know is you can often tell, just by the look on a person’s face, when it has gotten to that place. When inside they are thinking…
“Quit beating around the bush. Stop giving me details. Just spit it out.”
They say that, “Patience is a virtue”. Except increasingly you see less of it.
We want things now. Waiting is not something we tolerate very much. It is more than simply a reflection of our “instant” society. It is not just because we get accustomed to getting things within moments. I live in a world where action is important. Waiting around appears to be like we are doing nothing of value.
However, what I discover is the journey is as important as getting to the destination.
So much can be learnt on the way. So much can be discovered about ourselves, about others and about what matters as we get to where we are headed.
This has filled my thought for a couple of reasons.
One is because of the time of year. This is the time when students walk across the stage and receive their diplomas for successfully completing High School. It marks the culmination of years of schooling – with receiving a diploma.
These students will hear about what is to come – the bright future, chasing their dreams, pursing their passions, and so on. There will be memories of their past years, but looking forward seems to be the prime focus. They have arrived.
However, the journey is where the learning has taken place. Through the struggles and triumphs, the ups and downs, the failing and passing grades these students have found important lessons of life. It is in them where these accomplishments gain their importance. If little effort was given, the result doesn’t seem to mean as much as when there was struggle to attain the prize.
That was one of the things I have been thinking of.
The other thought is because of something I read. It is not central to the story, but does reveal our tendency to get to the point. Let me give you the context.
The account is found in Luke 3 where John the Baptist was calling people to turn from their current path and follow a new one. One which God had set for them. As a symbol of their desire to do so, John would baptize them in water. Quite a following was occurring. People from all walks of life were flocking to see John and received his message.
However John wasn’t interested in crowds following him. He had a different focus in mind and he challenged them to do more than be caught up in the latest fad.
We read him saying,
8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. (Luke 3:8 (NLT)
This message could turn people away. And some may have left – we are not told if they did. However, what we read about their response is what struck me. The reaction was the same…
“What should we do?”
Luke’s account clearly makes this point. Three times, with three different groups of people, he reveals them asking the same question. That spoke to me.
It revealed that often we just want the answer. Tell me what I have to do. I don’t want to wrestle with the process. I don’t want to work out the specifics for my life – just give me the response I need to have. Let me avoid the work of getting there just get me there. It made me think how appreciating the journey often gets lost – we simply like the destination.
Notice what Luke records…
10 The crowds asked, “What should we do?” 11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” 12 Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.” 14 “What should we do?” asked some soldiers. John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.” Luke 3:10–14 (NLT)
What we are not told is how many did what they were told to do as a response to their turning to follow God. I am sure some left and others did what John said. Some saw it as too difficult and may have tried but reverted back to what was their normal pattern of life.
It is easy to be told what to do.
Doing it is another thing entirely. That is especially true if we have not wrestled with discovering what God’s path for our life is. If we have avoided the working through the process of why we do what we do. If we have jumped to the conclusion or action and have not understood or grappled with the process of getting there.
We can end up with little ownership of the solution. We simply were told what to do and we tried to do it.
However, the journey matters. The wrestling, the process is as important as the destination. It is not quick or often easy – but it is worth the wait when we get there.