â€œIâ€™ve always gotten to where Iâ€™m going, but it didnâ€™t look the same.â€ Sounds a little like a Yogi Berra quote, doesnâ€™t it? Itâ€™s not. Itâ€™s a Steve quote, just ask Elaine, sheâ€™ll vouch for me. Iâ€™ve always had a decent idea of where I needed to be, sometimes I had a vague idea of how to get there; but by the time I arrived and looked back, I see that how I got there was never the way I imagined it when I started out.
This whole explanation sounds kind of circuitous â€“ which, I guess, reveals why I get to where Iâ€™m going but not by the route in which I began.
Thereâ€™s a story about a guy who was crippled and wanted to be healed. There was a pool in Jerusalem called Bethesda that was said to have healing powers. When an angel stirred the water the first person in the pool was healed of whatever affliction he or she possessed. This place and its healing powers were, of course, very popular among the afflicted. With the crowd around the pool, each waiting for the water to be stirred, each racing to be the first to enter the pool, the crippled guy in our story didnâ€™t have much of a chance. He just couldnâ€™t get to the water in time.
Not that he hadnâ€™t been trying; he had lain by the pool for thirty-eight years. It seemed like the way to go thirty-eight years earlier â€“ he was crippled, he wanted to get well, the first person into Bethesda pool after the angel stirred the water was healed â€“ heâ€™d go to Bethesda pool and jump in when the water moved. It sounded like a good plan, it just hadnâ€™t worked. Too much competition; it was the same plan everyone else at the pool had. Their goal was to get into the water first and only one of them could accomplish that each time.
Jesus came by Bethesda pool, he saw the crowd at the pool and learned about the guy who had been there thirty-eight years, trying, but failing, to be the first one in. Jesus asked him a really simple question; â€œdo you want to get well?â€
Well, duh! Heâ€™d been sitting by the pool for thirty-eight years, trying to be the first one in. It was impossible, there were too many others, all trying to accomplish the same goal, and they were faster than him. Heâ€™d never be the first to get in.
The man replied, â€œI have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.â€
But Jesus didnâ€™t ask him if he wanted to be the first to get in the pool. He asked the man if he wanted to get well.
Thirty-eight years earlier the man wanted to get well; thatâ€™s why he had come to Bethesda. But his route had been blocked by everyone else at the pool with the same plan. For thirty-eight years the guy had associated getting into the pool with getting well. Somewhere along the route his destination became the pool.
With a simple question, Jesus reminded the man of his original destination. â€œDo you want to get well?â€
And then, with a single command, Jesus brought him there. â€œâ€˜Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.â€™ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.â€ (John 5:8-9)
Gee, that was simple.
I believe we all have an idea of where we really want to go. I also believe that we tend to get lost on the way. Let me clarify: we get lost in the way. Instinctively we know our destination, our purpose. Itâ€™s been planted in us by the same Creator who knew us and intended our purpose before He began His work of creation.
We know it, but we donâ€™t know it. At times our spirit seeps into our daily grind and we get a glimpse of where we need to be; but still, we donâ€™t know how to get there. We think we know how to get there, because others have gone before us; thereâ€™s a road map to get to where we think weâ€™re going, so we take it. And before long we get hung up on the route and forget we have a destination.
Jesus has a way of dispensing with roadmaps. He was there at the first planning meeting. He knows your destination and he knows how youâ€™re going to get there. He sees it as it should be, as it was intended â€“ not necessarily how you imagine it.
Youâ€™ll get to where youâ€™re going, but I promise you this; itâ€™ll be by a route you didnâ€™t imagine. Just when youâ€™re feeling like that guy at the pool, Jesus will come along and say, â€œGet up!â€ And youâ€™ll be where youâ€™ve been going to all these years. It may not look exactly like you thought it would, but youâ€™ll know itâ€™s perfect. Just where youâ€™re supposed to be. Thatâ€™s his grace at work.
Hereâ€™s how I remind myself of the difference between my route and my destination.
Jesus taught his disciples a simple prayer; it included the phrase, â€œyour kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.â€ Thatâ€™s what I ask for, because I know that His kingdom comes to this earth through my heart and His will is done on this earth through my life. My purpose is buried in His purpose.
He knows exactly what Iâ€™m supposed to do, where Iâ€™m supposed to be and how Iâ€™m supposed to get there. I donâ€™t always know, and Iâ€™m easily confused. Thatâ€™s why I start each day with that prayer; itâ€™s kind of like a system reboot, setting me on the route each day toward a destination I can sense but not quite recognize. And when I get there and look back, Iâ€™ll realize that itâ€™s where Iâ€™ve been headed all along.
If this still sounds a little too much like Yogi Berra to you Iâ€™ll leave you with this.
â€œYou’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.â€ â€“ Yogi Berra
â€œâ€˜For I know the plans I have for you,â€™ declares the Lord, â€˜plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.â€™â€ – God (Jeremiah 29:11)
Iâ€™m going with God on this one.