Gordon MacDonald tells of a
time when as a child he was traveling with his family on a dusty, deserted road
in Canada. It was late, and the family
had been traveling the entire day. They
were lost, tired, and were becoming irritable with one another. They could not find a motel, and the few
cabins that they did see had “No Vacancy” signs in the window. The trip had begun with excitement, but all
of that had worn away as they pushed ahead thinking that down the road
somewhere there had to be a place to sleep.
MacDonald continues by saying:
I have often
recalled the feelings and frustration of that late-night, dark-road experience
whenever my life seemed to momentarily turn into a mindless or spirit less
journey crammed with events (not experiences) and contacts (not
relationships). In such confounding
periods, my sense is that one feels like my family did that night in
Canada. Where is all of this going? What does it mean? And, how will I know when the destination has
been reached? Why has this exciting trip
suddenly turned into a wearisome journey?
Where will I find tranquility again?
Your Spiritual Passion, pp. 7-8
Some finish a year tired, exhausted, and feeling as if they
have not made much progress. If you are
like many, you end this year committed but disillusioned — faithful but weary.
What happened in 2007? For some of you, this may have been an
incredible year. You got a new job or
maybe you got married. Perhaps you feel
as if you have had one awesome moment after the other. For others of you, it may have been a
difficult year. You’ve had many health
difficulties. You lost a job or a
significant person in your life passed away.
Let me suggest a few emotions that might describe at least some of us.
First, some of us may feel drained.
When we are
young, it is very tempting to rely on raw energy to carry us
through the day as we deal with such issues as jobs, finances, marriage,
consumed by the busy and the urgent. We find ourselves drained.
Busyness. Many of us live with the nagging sense of the
unfinished. There is always something to
be remembered. Something to be
done. Something to be said. There are people who are in perpetual
motion. Sometime ago I heard a person
say that she was thankful that she always ate fruit for breakfast because she
didn’t have to sit down to eat. That may
not mean much on the surface; however, her whole family lives a driven,
pressure-filled lifestyle. Kind of
interesting where technology is at the moment.
We often find it very difficult to be fully present. Yes, I am in a conversation, but my phone is
ringing, another text message has arrived, and e-mail is here.
Second, some of us may feel disillusioned. Life just hasn’t turned out the way we thought it would. We might become bored and feel empty and then become disillusioned. Our boredom is not about not having enough to do. Rather, what we are doing has lost any sense of meaning.
Finally, some of us might feel angry. Some of us are very angry people. Some people in churches, including church leaders, are very angry people. They may take it out on other people, the school system, their church, or their friends. Yet, for many the root of the anger lies elsewhere and is never dealt with.
Why mention all of this? I think it is important to have some sense for where we really are emotionally as we begin a new year. Have you ever known people who were in the middle of a crisis with a child, a marriage, or financially and managed to avoid dealing with that crisis? Yet, not dealing with reality doesn’t move a person ahead. In fact, it often makes the situation worse.
Hopefully some of this is somewhat helpful to those of you who are reading this. I write this because this kind of awareness has been very helpful to me.