Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Journey - an Allegory

Philippians 3:12-14 (The Message)
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.


The group of friends set out on the journey with excitement, looking forward to arriving at their destination and wanting to reach it as soon as possible. The journey would take a while and they weren't quite sure when they would arrive, but a sense of anticipation gripped their hearts as they started on their way.They knew that dearly loved friends and family were waiting at the end of their journey; a place was being made ready for them and they'd heard there was a feast waiting. Furthermore, an invitation had been extended to bring any others they met on their journey with them; there was room enough for all. Most of all they wanted to see the King, who had gone to extreme lengths to assure them that their presence was of such importance to him that he had made a great sacrifice to make this possible. He had also given them a guide book with traveling directions, complete with warnings of potential hazards along the way written by past travelers who'd made the trip and arrived safely.

As the journey wore on, a strange thing began to happen. Instead of their anticipation growing and their excitement building, they began to notice the great beauty of the country they were traveling through. "Why don't we settle here for a while and enjoy this place?" someone said and they sat down and began to unpack their bags.

"Yes," said another, "the journey is longer than we'd expected. We'll get there eventually, but let's stop and rest."

The destination faded more and more from their consciousness and they became absorbed and distracted by the sights and pleasures of their resting place. They met new friends there and thought fleetingly about inviting them to the great feast. They seemed hungry, but the feast seemed so far off now and they didn't bother.

Suddenly one of them realized what was happening - that time was passing by and the place in which they had become so comfortable was not their final destination. He remembered that one of the warnings he'd read in the guide book was to stay focused on the goal. He urged his companions to restart the journey; he even invited some new friends to join them and they gladly accepted. In order to make room for them the travelers left some of their own luggage behind. Suddenly their belongings seemed much less important than taking friends with them to the feast. Sadly, some of their number seemed to be so spellbound by the pleasures of the land that they decided to put off rushing to the feast at all, but others were thankful for the encouragement to keep going and to stay focused on their ultimate destination.

As they drew near to the end of their journey they came to a land that was beautiful beyond anything they could have imagined. They soon saw the lights of the city they were headed for, shining brightly. As they drew nearer, their hearts beat faster at the thought of the impending celebration and with renewed energy they focused on getting there. As they entered the gates of the city, all of them were overcome by waves of emotion. Tiredness was forgotten in the swell of joy that rose up in their chests. Their eyes scanned the faces of the crowds waiting to welcome them and as one and then another caught sight of those they were looking for, they pushed towards them with tears streaming down their cheeks. "We've been waiting so long for you to arrive," cried the familiar voices. It seemed like eternity would be too short to spend in catching up with all they had to tell of the time since they'd last seen them. They heard a loud rumbling clang! It was the great gates of the city closing. They wanted to cry out that the rest of their friends were still out there, on their way, but they knew in their hearts that they weren't on their way, and that it was too late now.

A hush fell and the crowd began to part. People began to fall to their knees and bow their heads to the ground in worship. Tears began to fall again, tears of inexpressible joy, cleansing tears, washing away the weariness of the journey; the King was coming. From their knees, the first things they saw were his feet. They noticed that his ankles bore the scars of terrible wounds. As they raised their eyes they saw that his hands too bore similar scars. His eyes blazed with a love that was almost unbearable to gaze upon and yet they couldn't pull their eyes from his face, it was so beautiful. His voice sounded like the rushing of many waters as he told them that everything was ready. The vast crowd shouted in worship to the King, blending with other voices, voices that sounded like thunder, these they realized were the voices of angels. Their journey had ended and yet they sensed that this was only the beginning of something more wonderful than they could ever have imagined. They realized that all that had happened to them to this point had merely been a preparation for what was starting now. They bowed before the King.


Philippians 3:16 (The Message)
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

15-16So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it.


I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I'd rather be His than have riches untold;
I'd rather have Jesus than houses or land,
I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hand:

Than to be a king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin's dread sway!
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

(From the hymn by Rhea F. Miller, 1922)

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