The Journey and the Destination

If you google journey and destination quotes, you will likely come across plenty of words that express the idea that life is not about the destination but rather, it is about the journey. That wisdom sounds reasonable. Famed tennis legend Arthur Ashe said, “Success is about the journey and not the destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” 

For a long time I agreed with those types of ideas. But then, I started to realize that this is not really something that most of us can relate to. And, it is not often celebrated in our society.

There are no parties for the person who almost finished college. The honeymoon only comes after the completed exchange of wedding vows. On election night, there is no chance that a person who didn’t win the election will hold office. Icing is never spread on a cake that is only half baked. 

The fact is that we get joy out of things coming to a point that we would consider a satisfactory completion. Jesus said to his followers, that he came so that their joy could be complete. He didn’t say, “I came so that you could be on the joy journey that never ends.”

So what do we do with the clear wisdom that the journey is a revelatory experience from which we can receive many treasures and yet acknowledge the very practical reality that most of us cannot locate ourselves on our developmental trajectory without arriving at some sense of destination? Big question. I know. 

However, consider this example. Mikah Meyer is the first person to experience all 419 U.S. National Park Service sites in a single journey. His completed trip and subsequent record is a perfect illustration that destination is part of the journey. He completed what he set out to do. Imagine if he just stopped at 418 sites and just said, “Never mind. I decided it was just about the journey.” Who would celebrate that decision?

While the journey is important, I think it serves us to remember that whether we are discussing travel or arriving at a certain point of equal justice in our society, it is the idea of the destination that most often starts on the journey in the first place.

God of the journey and the destination, wherever we go, there you are. Remind us of this whenever we feel like we might have lost our way. Amen.

Ecclesiastes 9
11 I have seen something else under the sun:The race is not to the swift
   or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
   or wealth to the brilliant
   or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

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