Since we never lived anywhere near any of our relatives, the extended road trip was a way of life for my family. My sisters and I viewed such trips as a great adventure, particularly when my parents would drive through the night across I-70 (most likely to avoid paying for a hotel room). The rhythmic thump as we crossed the breaks in the concrete lulled us to sleep in the back of the station wagon; as our parents tried valiantly to keep each other awake, we dreamed of playing canasta with our grandmother or romping with our aunt’s feisty dachshund. Invariably, we would begin asking THE question long before our arrival at the destination was imminent: ARE WE THERE YET? The answer was always “no,” as the car was clearly still moving. “How much longer?” was usually the next query. Although our questions began with excitement, they invariably took on a tone of whining as the novelty of three or four days in the car wore off.
Sometimes I wonder if I have begun to weary God with my incessant complaints about the road I am on. However, I recently fell into a trap worse than merely complaining about the duration of the journey — the trap of assuming I had ARRIVED, when I definitely had NOT! My mother warned me many times to beware of anyone who thinks he has a corner on the market, who thinks he knows everything, as that kind of self-assurance leads to self-importance and an unteachable heart. Little did I realize, that this attitude of having “arrived” can creep into my thinking without my being aware of it. While there’s nothing wrong with desiring to reach our spiritual goals, we must guard ourselves against assuming we have actually attained them. As we learn and develop in our understanding of God and His ways, we often fall prey to thinking we know more than we actually do. The danger in assuming we have arrived is that we will stop in our tracks in that area and automatically fall short of the goal God has for us!
The apostle Paul had much to say about races, roads, and destinations, as well as about our attitude en route. In Romans 12:3, he admonishes everyone “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” In Philippians 2:3 (Amplified), he exhorts us to “do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].” That means that there is not a single person on earth who canNOT teach me something. I have something to learn from everyone, no matter how much I think I know about the Bible, about Jesus, about ministry. Moreover, as God trains us in His Kingdom ways and the application of His Word, His purpose is NOT for me to get fat on faith. Instead, the idea is for HIS Presence in me to increase, and for ME to decrease (see John 3:30).
In fact, God wants me to interact with everyone on a level playing field. He desires for me to discount even the spiritual “qualifications” and giftings that may be quite legitimate, and even hard-won, in order to focus on Him and the power of His resurrection. “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. NOT THAT I HAVE ALREADY ATTAINED OR AM ALREADY PERFECTED, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 2:8-12). God wants us to continually offer up to Him the things we think we have learned, gained, or achieved, and focus on Him, that we may gain HIM and be found in HIM — yet we must NEVER consider ourselves to have ARRIVED in this regard this side of heaven. If I view myself as knowledgeable or experienced in an area, I immediately become inaccessible for fresh truth and life in that area.
In Hebrews 12, 1-2, Paul exhorts us to “strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Amplified). Father, I ask You to help me lay aside every weight, every self-righteous attitude, every accomplishment, everything I think I know, and empower me to run the race set before me. Help me look to YOU and not anyone or anything else. Help me to remain teachable; help me to NEVER consider myself as having “arrived” and thereby fall short of the goal! Empower me to enjoy the journey!