Heading in the right direction

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In Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s story Through the Looking Glass, he recounts this perceptive interchange between two of the leading characters:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” / “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

But the destination is not a given if we travel any old road in order to arrive.

“I don’t much care where I go.” / “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go to get there.”

For the Seventh-day Adventist Christian, both the journey and the destination are of the greatest importance. The destination is important because it informs how we live—the choices we make, the exercise of faith and hope and love. We keenly anticipate the establishment of the coming kingdom of God and we choose to experience life as a preparation for being full participants in the kingdom.

But inversely, the life we live also informs the destination we will reach. The choices we make about the gifts that God offers now; how we exercise faith, hope and love; these are all instruments that enable us to reach out and accept what has been offered by a gracious God. We are given the privilege of experiencing life in the kingdom of grace while we are on the journey to the kingdom of glory. But the destination is not a given if we travel any old road in order to arrive. Life is a complex of many roads and not all arrive at the same destination, no matter how well intentioned the traveller may be. 

Both individually and corporately it is vital for us to have a vision: to know where we are going and how we are going to get there. The destination matters. So does the journey.

Dr Barry Oliver is president of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.