30 May 2011

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ Joy in the Journey

One of my favorite music artists precisely because preaches through his music is Michael Card. I've enjoyed and appreciated his music since I was a student at Penn State University and college friends of mine hauled me off to a rural church nestled in the mountains of central Pennsylvania where he was performing an impromptu concert... just because he knew the pastor and just happened to be traveling through. There was no admission, no fancy stage lighting, no big production... just the man sitting at the piano or strumming his guitar, singing to His Lord while the rest of us were privileged to join him in this worship. 

Michael Card wrote a song called "Joy in the Journey" and I do believe it was that night that I heard the song for the first time:

"There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And all those who seek it shall find it
A pardon for all who believe
Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind

To all who've been born in the Spirit
And who share incarnation with Him
Who belong to eternity stranded in time
And weary of struggling with sin

Forget not the hope that's before you
And never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness when you were lost

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And freedom for those who obey..."

I've been humming that song, thinking of the words and their significance, quite a bit the past few days while reading a book entitled The Cruelest Journey by Kira Salak. On the surface, the book, sponsored by National Geographic, chronicles a woman's extreme and challenging "survival" journey, kayaking 600 miles of the Niger River, camping in villages and along the river bank, meeting people and experiencing the culture in both positive and negative ways, finally finishing her trip in fabled town of Timbuktu. The book intrigued me for obvious reasons - I love real life adventures, I've dreamed of going to Timbuktu since I was a kid, canoeing/kayaking is one of my favorite "sports," and taking a boat ride on the Niger is a delightful afternoon "get-away" (and has been) for me since Tim treated me to my first one as a birthday gift several years ago.

As Ms. Salak writes about trip, she reflects back to what it might have been for the famous Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who died in his second attempt to canoe the length of the Niger River. She marvels at how much life had probably not changed along the great river between the time of his fated trip and her present one, at how little one really needs to survive. She also considers of the metaphor of life as the compilation of many different journeys each teaching us, growing us IF allow them... these metaphor winding throughout her demanding journey just as she follows the winding course of the Niger River.

A self-avowed Buddhist, I was a bit hesitant to dive into the book. And there were sections I found difficult to read (some of the ugly encounters with villagers along the river or her pursuit of a witch doctor and marabout to tell her future), the journey metaphor I found fascinating and I loved the bits of history - the story of Mungo Park - woven throughout the narrative. Most of all, I was convicted by her focus on gratitude... even for the hard and cruel things we encounter in our journeys because their presence works good in all who will commit, not just to the arrival at a final destination, but to the actual process of getting there...

Take a look at some of the following excerpts from the book:

"If a journey doesn't have something to teach you about yourself, then what kind of journey is it? There is one thing I'm already certain of: Though we may think we choose our journeys, they choose us..." ~Kira Salak
"I wonder what we look for when we embark...[on a journey]. There is the pat answer that you tell the people you don't know: that your're intrested in seeing a place, learning about its people. But then the trip begins and the hardship comes and the hardship is more honest: it tells us that we don't have enough patience yet, nor humility, nor gratitude. And we thought that we did. Hardship brings us closer to truth, and thus is more difficult to bear, but from it along comes compassion. And so I've told the wold it can do what it wants with me during this trip if only by the end, I have learned something more. A bargain, then. The journey, my teacher." ~Kira Salak
"Homebound, finally.  I lean back in my seat, my flight to Bamako making a complete mockery of my kayak trip. From this height, all those weeks spent on the river have been reduced to mere seconds as we speed by. I look out of hte window. Park's majestic Niger appears as a feeble trail of gray, cutting through desert plains, winding around pale hils, and emerging in an unassuming puddle that is Lake Debo. It took me a day to cross that lake and another two days to battle around the northern buckle of the Niger tha empties from it, those days surrendered now to a shuddering passage at 15,000 feet." ~Kira Salak
and my favorite quote of all, from Mungo Park, a follower of Jesus:
"The melancholoy, who complain of the shortness of human life, and the voluptuous, who think the present only their own, strive to fill up every moment with sensual enjoyment; but the man whose soul has been enlightened by his Creator, and enabled, though dimly, to discern the wonders of salvation, will look upon the joys and afflictions of this life as equally the tokens of Divine love. He will walk through the world as one travelling to a better country, looking forward with wonder to the author and finisher of his faith." ~Mungo Park
As Salak discovers... as Park so elequently expresses ...and as Card lifts his voice in communicative worship - our journey (or journeys) in this life are not so much about the destination as what we learn and who we become en route.  For those of us choosing to trust Christ as Lord and Savior, the destination is sure. The even greater miracle is that we can be just as confident that our good God is orchestrating an amazing voyage, sometimes in spite of us. It is a voyage we will never regret - even the difficult, scary, miserable or impossible portions. Learning to choose gratitude and thankfulness for every step, for ever stutter and stumble, for every backtrack, for every "feels-like-a-mis-step," for every surprise, for every miracle, for every ray of beauty, for every leap along the way... 

Lord give me eyes to see and a heart to believe that all these are miraculous evidences of Your hand, Your ever-abiding presence.

this week's gratitude list:
(#s 1166 - 1200)

seven layer chip dip, even if it is a lot of work

breezy, cloudy days


puppets and marionettes making me laugh

watching my little guy at his "spectacle" Saturday night

safety on the road - I was nearly in one accident and got swiped by a taxi Saturday night (he didn't stop) - but except for a sore neck & back and a mangled bike, I think everyone was essentially uninjured

hanging out with Anna on a Sunday morning

9 days and counting

computer planted in front of a working AC when I have lots of work

2 Thursday mornings in a row with my friend - doesn't seem like that happens very often in our busy lives

lunch and laughter... and the fact that waiter was able to find some lemon flavored ice cream for me since I couldn't eat the really yummy looking stuff with chocolate in it

sitting in an air conditioned truck to talk and laugh, for much longer than we should have

swimming programs

cold showers on hot days helping to get rid of more heat rash on these kids than I've ever seen

school year endings

summer beginnings

checking things off the list

unexpected energy to work and keep checking more things off the list

really good books

large piles of laundry to fold - which means the kids have been doing their part... now, if I can just get it folded!

grapefruit flavored pop - and to think I never understood why my parents liked it, but now I do

ginger flavored pop on a sore throat

so many helpers at the elementary swim program

bridge open for traffic

planning on those peanut butter parfaits... second try

patient girl waiting on her birthday treat

new jeans, sky blue t-shirt bringing out the blue in her eyes

working together on algebra reviews

having enough sunscreen to share

listening to giggles as they try to "corkscrew" through the water

watching little ones conquer fear to jump, dive, even flip... off the 3 meter platform

bright pink hand-me-down crocks for my bright pink personality girl

indispensible husband helps on a Monday morning that found me "over-sleeping"

the peacefulness of a few moments with eyes closed and nothing but silence


Disclosure of Material Connection: I checked this book out from my local library and was not asked to review it. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 244: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1 comment:

  1. i love michael card, too. and i have to say that "the peacefulness of a few moments with eyes closed and nothing but silence" almost always makes my favorite whenever it hits anyone's list :-) thanks for sharing.


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