The Moment and the Journey

BY DREW O’KANE

For most Christians, there seems to be a very common theme of working through personal spiritual difficulties that come with being fallen. Most Christians agree that we are all working out our salvation here on earth, along with bringing His kingdom to fulfillment, and other divine mandates. All those things then are part of the journey on which we embark when we give our lives to Christ. Quite an epic story, don’t you think?

But as always, this isn’t quite all the story. We also have other things that happen in our lives. Moments when God shines His grace on us. The moment when we accept Christ. Punctuations to our otherwise monotone lives of journeying.

And it is at this point that I would like to interject my personal thoughts. How do I reconcile the two ends on God’s purposes? Why do we have both the Journey and the Moment?

The grandeur of the Journey very much appeals to me. Knowing that my Heavenly Father holds all my life in His hands, to mold and shape into something beautiful, makes a rather strong impression. It gives, as it implies, a purpose, and a much larger plan than life seems to let on. It is as if the discrete moments have been erased from our life, and we look at it from miles above, seeing the interweaving of our happy, tragic, wonderful lives. The smearing out of our moments, much as Schrödinger would want it.

But then again, I am also very much wanting to have the Moment.

I want my life to be suddenly brought to a glorifying moment of perfection. I want problems solved, sickness healed, sins expunged, lives saved. The discrete moments of blinding suddenness; the momentary flashes of grace that are given to us; the soothing warmth of salvation lavished upon us in an instant. These are the Moments of divine intervention, and they are not that hard to miss.

But this war between the Moment and the Journey doesn’t end with my rather narcissistic observations. The entire problem of evil and suffering in the world seems to be found in this war. In the Moment, we find very much that is wrong. Poverty, rape, war, famine, and much death. Many people who suffer are suffering this moment. Our Moments spread across the globe and encompass immense amounts of tragedy. And even with all this tragedy our Moment gathers in many wonderful things as well. The birth of a child, the commitment of friends to each other, the giving of clothes and food to the poor and hungry. All these events are captured, both good and bad, within the Moment.

Which is precisely where our conflict shows itself.

Within the Moment, we have all of humanity both damming itself and carrying on towards Gomorrah, and yet at the same time saving itself from certain destruction. I must admit that, at this point, I cannot possibly understand how this makes any sense. From the overall perspective, we have a zero-sum game. One step forward, one step back. Where is the Kingdom of Heaven? Where is God working?

Perhaps we need the Journey to make sense of this. We cannot merely leave ourselves with the Moment, because in the Moment, we have all of humanity’s goodness and evil wrapped together, and not clearly pointing in any one direction. But then again, within the Journey, the Moment makes sense. Within the Journey are many Moments, and all these Moments gather together all of God’s work through and with humanity. And Moments become a Journey. Individual stories become the Church’s story. Human work becomes Divine work. The kingdom of man becomes the Kingdom of Heaven. Our lives are not merely lived in just the moment, or the journey. It is both. Christianity is both journey and moment.

God takes our Moments, and our days as the old hymn says, and lets them flow in a ceaseless Journey.

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10 thoughts on “The Moment and the Journey

  1. Nice. I prefer to think it in a slightly different way though…that we live in a tension of “here and now” and “what’s yet to come,” and that as Christians, we work to usher in the kingdom of God – “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” – onto the earth, in recognition that we still live in a fallen world and we hope for Jesus’ return as ruler over all.

  2. Steven, I would certainly agree that we are to work towards bringing about the kingdom of God here on Earth, and that it is a Journey which we must travel. But I would like to point out that Christ not only talked about the kingdom of God as a future state, but also as “being within you” (Luke 17:20-21 for the context). To me this is an important point. While we work for a future reality, we also have a present reminder. You can think of salvation along the same lines. We are both saved now by Christ’s sacrificial death, and will be fully brought into our salvation when we reach the new Heaven and the new Earth. So while we do live in a fallen world, we do have an imperfect form of the kingdom of God here already.

  3. The Bible teaches us that in all that we do,we should do them for God.This is the moment.The problem with living only in the moment is that we lose the impetus to live for the eternal.God does want us to live not only for the moment,but to live as if each day were our last i e living for the eternal.
    It is clear that there seemingly is a tension,a dialectical one,between the present and the all-time.We need the grace of God to resolve this contradiction.As the Bible maintains,we are what we are,today and for all times,by the grace of God.

    Tunji

  4. Tunji,

    I would be wary in diminishing the importance of living in the moment. As C.S. Lewis talked about in his essay The Weight of Glory, we interact each day with people who will one day become either horrible demons or frighteningly beautiful angels. Our actions now have an effect on people, in pushing them towards either Heaven or Hell, no matter how small.

    I would disagree in calling the issue a contradiction or even an illusionary tension. It is a reality. We are both bringing God’s Kingdom to this earth, and already in it.

  5. Drew
    I don’t think I suggested that the moment has a diminished importance,relative to the destination.
    What I did suggest is that there is a continuous tension,call it a contradiction if you like, between living in the moment,and living today as if it were eternal.
    The Bible says we should be in the world,but not be of the world.The implication of this,I believe,is that while we are in this world,we are to conduct ourselves with the ethics,standards and behavioral patterns of Heaven.It of course is not possible to live 100% like an angel,while blood flows through your veins.Hence the contradiction I talked about.
    As long as we are humans,some bit of our lives and motivations will and indeed must continue to be’ fleshly’.But as we renew our minds in prayer,life and the Word,we are gradually translated into the form of what God wants us to be.
    Yes,we are already in God’s Kingdom on earth in the sense of being the light of the world and the salt of the earth.But this Kingdom of God on earth is nothing to compare with the Kingdom of God in Heaven.

  6. Tunji,

    To an extent I agree that we can never fully realize the Kingdom of God here on this earth. The mere fact that we are fallen, I would hesitate to use the word ‘fleshly’, makes our motivations less than pure, and our actions less than godly, to say the least. But I would point out that, the point is not that we are bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth, but God is bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth. He chooses to use our rather suspect motivations and our less than adequate efforts. By no means am I suggesting that we do not try to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to fruition, but that we are not the builders of this kingdom. We are, as St. Paul puts it, “living stones” of the new Temple, i.e. the Kingdom of Heaven.

  7. Drew

    1 True indeed that we are not to build God’s Kingdom for Him.But,when we truly are the salt of the earth and the light of the world,I think we catch a glimpse of heaven on earth.

    2 However this does not put the Christian in the category of say those who hold to the Manifest Sons of God doctrine.Misinterpreting such a passage as Romans 8:19,they dis ingeniously come to the conclusion that we are to prepare an eldorado on earth,by our own efforts,paving the way for Christ’s return.
    This erroneous teaching is spreading like wildfire in our times,and is based on entirely wrong premises.

  8. Tunji,

    1. I would agree.

    2. I would also agree, this is erroneous logic. The mere fact that we are fallen means we will never reach El Dorado, so to speak. And to an extent, the Tower of Babel was an attempt at this.

    I’ve very much enjoyed your thoughts Tunji. I like reader interaction.

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