The Bends In The Road
In architectural design there is a concept known as "denial and reward." Essentially, the idea is to offer users a view of their target, or destination. It could be a staircase, a fountain, a ballroom, or the center of a city park.
But then you divert the path so they can't see it, and reveal it again from a different angle to create intrigue. You continue to reward them with additional experiences and views on their way. According to author Matthew Frederick, "It makes the journey more interesting, the arrival more rewarding."
I talk to a lot of people who struggle in their journey with Jesus because of their frustration over the unknown. They speak to me about how they have had glimpses of a possible future where they are firmly in the will of God, but then confess they lose sight of it when circumstances divert their attention.
The psalmist who wrote Psalm 25 offered this prayer: Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
It's humbling to realize that for thousands of years, people have been praying prayers like the one offered up in Psalm 25--prayers that God will show them their destination more clearly, and without so many twists and turns.
But it's in the twists and turns that we discover the truth about our relationship with God. As we stumble after Jesus, we often find our faith is tested, our loyalty is strained. At times, we find ourselves wondering if we are on the right path, or if the destination we glimpsed in the distance was a mirage.
And all of it, every challenging moment, every curve in the path makes the journey more interesting and faith-strengthening.
We are wired to feel this. It's like the Great Architect of our lives created us to experience our journey by learning to trust that every turn, every bend will lead us not just closer to our goal, but closer to God.
Today, I read this great poem by the 17th century poet George Herbert that I would encourage us all to pray today, keeping all of this in mind: "Enrich my heart, mouth, hands in me, With faith, with hope, with charity; That I may run, rise, rest with thee."
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.