The days are getting shorter and the shadows longer. Summer is nearing its twilight. Soon the bright heat will fade away and the brown and orange coolness of fall will cover the earth. Many have managed to get in that last summer vacation. People from miles over flock to the coasts to find tranquility for just a few days, before returning to the doldrums of life.
A few weeks ago, I was walking on the beach. The sky above stretches into forever in all directions, and almost resembles a vast blue dome overhead, littered with clouds. The ocean seems infinite, going on and on until it disappears into the horizon, far beyond our vision. Its waves crash onto the shore in a sound that is both violent and soothing. We could keep walking and it seems we would never run out of beach. But off in the distance, in the blazing evening sky, is a cluster of buildings lit up in a beautiful display. We seem to be walking towards them, yet they are so far away.
It struck me how similar walking on the beach is to the Christian walk. Isaiah 9:2: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
The journey between birth and Heaven is long for most people. When we start walking, we may be able to see the destination in the far distance, but it is merely a glowing speck on the horizon. For most, eternity is the furthest thing from their minds. They are still trying to figure out how to walk and talk and become independent. Actually reaching the heavenly city seems forever away. But the more we walk, the faster it approaches. We start this race sprinting, but by the end are trying everything we can to slow down.
And the city grows. What once was a speck slowly starts to take form. Sometimes we forget about it, looking away momentarily, then look back up again and are shocked by how much closer it is. Even as we can’t tell from watching it, it slowly grows before our eyes.
And we keep walking.
Some of us will get there sooner than others. There are loved ones we started the journey with that we thought would be with us until the end. But they ran to that city ahead of us and we will not see them again until we arrive.
Only a precious few are walking in the right direction. Matthew 7:14: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. The majority of the world is walking the other way. We pass them by and they look at us, puzzled that we are walking in the opposite direction. But while we can see our destination, they can’t see theirs. They are oblivious to where they are headed. We see Heaven in the distance; they fail to see through the darkness that covers their path the burning flames that they are headed towards.
Sometimes no matter how far we travel, the destination doesn’t seem any closer. It’s easy to lose focus or give up on this walk. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me (Matthew 14:29-30). Peter could have walked a thousand miles on water if he’d not lost focus on Jesus. But we too can easily let the crashing waves get our eyes off of the distant heaven. The sky will at times be clear and calm, but then the ominous clouds will cover the brightness. The horizon will be blackened with storms and the waves will rise threateningly. Thunder will roar. Tides will come in. We will get exhausted. The wind will whip mercilessly at us. The devil has so many tricks to distract us. Sometimes we’ll have to help one another continue. The journey almost won’t seem worth it at times.
But we keep walking.
No matter how difficult the journey gets, the way has been paved for us. Proverbs 4:12: When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Even when we lose sight of the path, we forget that Jesus has already walked it. Everything we will encounter, He already encountered. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; (Isaiah 35:8). That way of holiness is the trail that Jesus walked, and every step we take must line up perfectly with the footprints He left behind. If even a toe print is out of alignment, the next step will be even further out of sync, and then further, until before we realize it, we have completely deviated from His path. But the Holy Spirit will light the steps before our feet. Mountains will be brought down and valleys will be raised up in front of us. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: (Isaiah 40:4).
Not all of us will make it. Some will get distracted by the storms or waves. Others will think the world’s path looks more enticing, and will make a sudden U-turn to join the other crowd on its way to Hell. Some will get weary from the journey and fall. And often, it will be the ones we thought were the strongest, the ones who encouraged others to keep going. 2 Timothy 4:10: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world. We have seen many Demases before us, often the last people we’d suspect. And we will see more before this journey ends.
But we must keep walking. Micah 4:5: For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.
One day soon the journey will be over for us all. It’s almost as if we are basking in the light emanating from the heavenly city. But we must not lose sight, because no matter how close we get, we will still see crowds of people walking in the opposite direction, beginning their long journeys towards darkness. Our faces may be etched with the excitement at what lies ahead, but we cannot lose focus on all those headed to a devil’s hell. We must reach out and grab as many as we can to take with us before it’s too late. Once we reach that destination, we will have no more opportunities to win the lost. Only the righteous will be allowed into that holy place. Isaiah 2:3: And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.