Living in the In-between

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

Miriam Beard

Have you ever realized that getting from point A to point B is difficult and usually not a straight line? Whether we are traveling to a far-off destination, planning a career or family, or just trying to pay the monthly bills, the process is often not what we had envisioned at the start.

Do you remember the movie Trains, Planes and Automobiles? Steve Martin plays the tightly wound corporate executive, Neal Page. John Candy portrays the good-natured Del Griffith, a shower curtain ring salesman. The movie tells the story of Neal’s attempt to get home from New York City to Chicago in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family.

Del inadvertently causes Neal to miss his flight. The two then pair for an absurd blunder-filled, three-day adventure. Remember the deer in the backseat of the Mustang? Sleeping double in a standard bed? Great stuff! Neal blames his misfortunes on Del. Del takes it all in stride. Eventually, the two form a bond in the midst of their struggles. Neal overcomes his self-centeredness and both men seem to be headed home.

Once home Neal realizes Del’s story. He is a man without a family and a home. Neal rushes back to Union Station where he had left Del. He finds Del on a bench; sitting alone in an empty train station. Neal invites his newest friend home to spend the holiday with him and his family. What a great story of life transformation and learning to love another.

I began to memorize Ephesians 1:18-19a. The words are powerful and remind me of the many gifts Christ-followers have in Jesus.

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you[point A], the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints[point B], and His incomparably great power for us who believe.”

Ephesians 1:18-19a

So I am lying in bed the other morning just thinking through this Scripture when I feel this compulsion to really dig into it. Eventually, I drag myself out of bed and, after two cups of coffee, I read a few commentaries on the passage. What I find in addition to the Jesus’ wonderful gifts for us is a map for getting from point A to point B.

I often find among believers, myself included, this notion that after embracing God’s salvation (our hope, point A) we are just waiting to die and enter heaven (our final redemption from sin, point B). Life is a counting of days until death. One eats, sleeps, works their life away, not hoping for much more, not expecting much more, and really not wanting much more.

This point A to point B mentality resembles Neal Page’s attempt to get from New York City to Chicago, but it fails to embrace a journey that can transform our life and the lives of others.

The truth is that God has much planned for us between our point A and our point B.

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Jesus’ Kingdom is now, and God wants us to enter it now. He doesn’t want us to wait until the “here-after.” He has work for us to do now. This was the whole purpose of the Sermon on the Mount; answering the question of what it looks like to be subjects of Jesus’ Kingdom here and now as we eat, sleep, work, plan for a family, and even pay the bills.

God desires us to become like His Son in a way that Dallas Willard describes as learning to live life as Jesus would live it through you.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Ephesians 5:1-2

God also wants us live in ways that bring Him glory.

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

God wants us to make mature disciples.

“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”

Hebrews 5:12

The distance between our point A and point B will more resemble Trains, Planes and Automobiles than the local church’s annual cakewalk as we struggle to move through life’s breakdowns, wrong turns, adverse weather and poor road conditions intent on fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives, but we are not left alone to struggle.

The last part of my memory verse tells of an incomparable great power for those who believe. This is God’s power that raised Christ from the dead, gave Him authority over all of Creation, and made Him head of the church.

This power is for us. It is available, accessible, and infinite. It is the fuel, no, it is everything we need for our journey from point A to point B that makes the journey a joy, transforms our life and the lives of others, and brings God the glory He desires and deserves.

I want my life to count for something more than just eating, sleeping, working, accumulating garage sale stuff, and other experiences of self-gratification. I want my journey to be God-planned and powered. I want to learn to live in Jesus’ Kingdom here and now. I want my journey to be life-transforming, others-centered, and God-honoring. I want my point A to point B to be a journey that movies are made of.

God, do not let me waste my days wandering aimlessly. May You be my map. May the power that raised Christ be my fuel. May my life be more than a story about me. May it be a story about You and for You.

Some days I could really use a GPS …