“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” -C.S. Lewis-
As the new year (& new decade) approaches, it’s time to shift into a new gear—a gear that propels us onward, as we set our sights upward. In the big picture of things better things are ahead. That outlook may be challenging though, especially if the new year is bringing forth new trying circumstances and/or the gap that losses of loved ones are leaving behind. God knows that it’s not always easy and effortless. His only begotten Son endured the cross, while focusing on the joy that was to come (Heb. 12:2, Phil. 2:6-11, Ps. 16:8-11).
Whether you’re stuck in traffic, taking an unexpected detour, or in the lane of grief and suffering, here are some travel tips to help you stay on your route in this journey called life:
· BE FAMILIAR WITH THE TRAVEL GUIDE AND KEEP IT HANDY. Man cannot live (or travel) by bread alone (Deut. 8:3). God’s given all we need to help us navigate through our journey in this present fallen world in His Word, the Bible. We can only see part of the route at a time. God sees the whole route (hazards included), so reliance on His direction is imperative (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Heb. 4:12, Prov. 3:5-6, Ps. 18:30, 2 Cor. 4:18, 5:7).
· WEAR THE PROPER ROAD GEAR (including the helmet). Our struggles along the way are spiritual so we need to wear the proper gear to stay safely on the road (Eph. 6:13-17, 4:24, Col. 3:10, 12-14, Rom. 13:14).
· TRAVEL LIGHTLY. Don’t over-pack. The Travel Guide and a crate of fruit (Gal. 5:22-23) are necessary, but leave the extra ‘baggage’ behind. It’s human nature to be tempted to hold tightly to things (people, past hurts, and disappointments). Releasing these and any other sin or weight that bogs us down is necessary to patiently persevere in the race that’s set before us (1 Tim. 6:7, Heb. 12:1, Matt. 6:19-21, 11:28-30, Ps. 55:22). And by the way, even though we still carry our ‘old nature’ with us, we need to remember to ‘leave it in the trunk’ as we’ll veer off-course when it’s in the driver’s seat (Rom. 13:14, Gal. 5:17, 24, Eph. 4:22).
· KEEP YOUR TANK FULL WITH GOD’S PURE, UNLIMITED SUPPLY OF INSEPARABLE LOVE (Rom. 8:31-39).
· LOW GEAR IS THE BEST WAY TO DRIVE. You’ll get more torque (which will get you through the rough roads) when you stay in ‘low’ by humbly allowing God to be the strength and power for your engine. Striving in your own strength will get you nowhere (Prov. 13:10, Phil. 4:13, 19, Eph. 6:10, 2 Cor. 4:7, 12:19-20, 1 Peter 5:5).
· STAY FOCUSED ON WHAT’S BEFORE YOU. Our mind should always be locked into “things above” so that the present things we may be facing are put into proper perspective and viewed in light of eternity (2 Cor. 4:17-18, Col. 3:1-3). That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be present to the things and people here. When we’re present in the moment and the task at hand rather than thinking of our problems, dreams, and desires, we avoid making careless mistakes such as going through a stop sign or rear-ending someone.
· FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD. God’s Word takes preeminence (Col. 1:18), but as we live in this world we must obey the earthly rules of the road (as long as they don’t contradict with God’s) (Matt. 22:17-21, 1 Tim. 1:8, Rom. 13:13).
· DON’T PARK IN THE PAST. It’s hard to reach your destination when you’re stuck in ‘reverse’. It’s okay to visit the past to be reminded of lessons learned, special times with loved ones that we miss, and gratitude for God’s faithfulness along our way. Our mind, whether in the past or present, should focus on Paul’s words in Phil. 4:8, the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy.
· DON’T GET SIDETRACKED OR STUCK IN NEUTRAL. God has a plan for your life that He’s mapped out in advance. Don’t let lesser things (or discouraging travelers) take you away from the course He’s set before you (Phil. 2:13, Eph. 2:10, 1 John 2:15-17).
· TAKE TIME TO REST & REFUEL. God’s creation is still beautiful even though it’s marred by the fall. Make time to stop and smell the roses, bask in the sun, and enjoy the sunsets and sensory beauty of God’s handiwork.
· SELECT YOUR TRAVEL COMPANIONS WISELY. Follow those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart rather than those who will corrupt you. Steer clear of any travelers that give you bad directions (1 Cor. 15:33, 2 Tim. 2:22, 3:2-7).
· TREAT THOSE WHO ARE LOST ALONG THE WAY WITH CARE (2 Tim. 2:24-26, 1 Peter 3:15, Col. 4:5-6).
· LIFE’S SHORT—MAKE THE MOST OF IT (Ps. 144:5, 1 Tim. 6:6, Eph. 5:16).
· STAY ON COURSE BY KEEPING YOUR SIGHTS ON THE FINISH LINE. This journey of life is hard and discouragement is par for the course. Don’t allow disappointments and setbacks keep you from ‘keepin on’. God’s grace is sufficient and His mercies are new each day (2 Cor. 12:9, Lam. 3:22-23). Stay on the route. Finish the race and keep the faith. You’ll be rewarded when you reach your final destination (Ps. 37:5, Phil. 1:6, 3:20, 1 Tim. 6:12, 2 Tim. 4:7-8).