The other day, I mentioned that I'd recently driven from Iowa to New Mexico. That's about 2000 miles, round trip, with two kids in the car. They did extremely well, and my husband did all the driving while I looked at the scenery. To be honest, since we were driving through Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, there really wasn't much to look at. We got silly at one point saying "Look! More sky! Look! More clouds! Look! More fields!" Now, this type of scenery might be just what some people like to look at, and that is great if it brings them some kind of pleasure and peace. But it really isn't my favorite kind of scenery. I like trees, mountains, and beaches (which I haven't seen in some time). It definitely was not an exciting drive.
I also remember a time last winter when I was driving to and from a town about 40 minutes away from me a lot. At one point while I was driving, I'd been so lost in thought that I couldn't quite figure out where I was even though I knew where I'd come from and where I was headed.
In both of these instances, I was mainly focused on the destination. The road to get there was simply that: a means to an end. The road was generally irrelevant because what I really wanted was to arrive.
And isn't that something that we generally do in life? We get so focused on our goals or where we want to be in 5 years or 10 years that we forget to enjoy the journey of getting there. Or, in our faith, we get so focused on the end result (getting to heaven) that we don't live an abundant life now. We look so forward to what we have deemed the "exciting" part that we do not appreciate what we perceive as the slow and boring parts of life.
We are always in a hurry to get through things, but do we really know why? (to be fair, even if we were not rushing, time does go by awfully fast).
I think that part of the reason we don't appreciate the slow and boring parts of life is because we often hear that "we are only on this earth temporarily" or "we are not of this world".
I think that this is a mistake.
To disregard this world and our life on it in such a manner is, I think, somewhat insulting to our Creator. We read in Genesis that when God created everything, he deemed it "very good" (Genesis 1:31). And in Revelation we see the creation of a new heaven and new earth, the new holy city of Jerusalem being brought to earth from heaven, and God dwelling among his people (Revelation 21:1-3).
I suppose it can be a little disappointing to learn that this is what the Bible talks about, and not about flying off to a place called Heaven to be with God there. But if we slow down and stop to think about it, it is actually more exciting. To know that God cares about this world and what happens here gives us a confidence and calling to love and care for it as He does. We can see that our lives right now, though temporary, have meaning and purpose.
My Jewish friends taught me about a concept called tikkun olam, repairing the world. Essentially, what this means is that we are in partnership with God to set things right again (this plays very well into the Reformed Theology I am currently learning about the idea of reforming the world).
If we continue to rush through life, can we really appreciate all the little parts of life that have their own importance?
I joked earlier about the boring scenery on my cross-country drive, but at the same time, it stirred other thoughts in me as well. The immense spread of land, often desolate, is so different from large cities, and even from the small town in which I live. There was the one place (in Texas, I believe), where we drove by what could only have been thousands of cows. I am assuming they will end up being our food. There was the one car we passed that was packed full and was following a U-Haul.
All of these are things that we can easily forget and dismiss, but all of these are things that happen in life. Our lives are entwined with others, whether we know it or not, and if we pay better attention to the quiet and boring parts of the journey, we connect with others in ways we may not imagine.