John 14:1-14; 2 Chronicles 20:1-21:1; Psalm 78:56-72
My wife has a habit of naming inanimate objects. Our GPS unit is “Sally.” (With a voice like that, it couldn’t be male.) Whenever we go somewhere, we set Sally up and punch in the address. Sally, sweet girl that she is, always gives us directions – and usually they’re pretty good. Sometimes, we travel a familiar route, but we set Sally up because she lets us know how fast we’re going in comparison to the speed limit and how long it will take to arrive at our destination. At other times, we have no idea where we’re going, so once we punch in the address, we depend on Sally to take us where we need to go. While most people don’t give their GPS units names, they do have and use one to show them the way.
Let’s face it, a GPS unit is a man’s dream. When we use one, it’s not that we’re asking for directions, it’s like we’re playing with technology. We don’t have to pull into a gas station to ask directions – we just listen to our GPS nag us about going the wrong way. Usually though, when we follow our GPS unit we can get where we want without problems. As Jesus spoke with His disciples, He reminded them that He was getting ready to prepare their rooms for them and they knew the way. Thomas wasn’t sure what was going on, so he asked directions – losing ten points on his man card, of course. “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:5-6)
I can imagine that there was a lot of tension in the upper room this night. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him and had, in fact, sent Judas out for that very purpose. No one had washed feet until Jesus did it. He had just predicted that Peter would deny Him. The tension was so thick you could cut it with a chain saw…and no one had chain saws back then. Jesus reminded them not to let their hearts get troubled because no matter what was going to happen, He was preparing the place for them. Thomas asked a logical question: “We don’t even know the address to punch into the GPS unit, Lord!” Jesus said the words that still ring true today. In effect, He reminded us not to worry about the destination, but to trust our guide. The way is not a road map we can find on our GPS unit or even on mapquest. The way is a person, Jesus. If we follow Jesus we’ll arrive at our destination. In truth, though, the destination is not our goal, the journey we take walking with Jesus is the goal. We may take different routes in our life, but the only way is Jesus. When we trust Him to guide us, we’ll journey to our eternal home in heaven, but along the way experience the joy of ministry, of caring, and of loving others for His sake.
If we were saved from our sin for the sole purpose of going to heaven, as soon as someone came to know Jesus they should be taken straight to heaven. But God leaves us here for a reason. That reason is found when Jesus calls on us to follow Him because He’s the way. Our experiences along the journey will be different. As close as my wife and I are, we have had different experiences along our journey. But those experiences have happened as we trusted Jesus to be our way. I’ve often made the point that Christianity is the most inclusive religion because anyone can follow Jesus. It’s in this statement that Jesus defines the exclusivity of Christianity: He alone is the way. No one can develop a relationship with God except through Him. While we have different experiences, it’s not that there are many pathways or roads to heaven; it’s that while we follow Jesus we will each see different parts of the scenery along that way and God will use those different experiences to allow us to minister to others. How do we get where we want to go? We follow the way, the truth, and the life because there is no other way.
Oh Lord, help me to trust You along the journey. Remind me that You take me on the journey to minister to others.