The Destination and The Path
(Jesus said), “’And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.’
Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’” (John 14:3-5).
I am old enough to remember family road trips before GPS.
For months in advance, our family would talk about where we were going for that year’s Smith Family Vacation. We would learn about the destination, local attractions and if there were any family members to visit in the area.
While I remember much about various amusement parks, beaches, mountains and other destinations, there is something that always equally fascinated me: my dad knew the way.
While we were packing sunscreen and sunglasses, my dad was tracing lines on a map. He was measuring distances and analyzing routes. When we took wrong turns, I remember my dad getting the map back out, retracing the route, seeking to get us back on the way.
Our focus was the destination. My dad’s focus was the way.
When Jesus told His disciples He would be crucified, resurrected and returning to the Father, Jesus carefully phrased an awkward statement:
I am going, he said.
I will come again and take you, he promised.
And you know the way.
Not you know the place. You know the way.
Thomas’s question in response is more than valid. If the disciples don’t know where Jesus is going, how can they possibly know the way? If one doesn’t have a destination, how can one use a map?
Jesus’s response? “I am the Way…”
Much of my Christian walk is spent concerned about destinations. I grapple with doctrinal underpinnings of time, place and means. My daily prayers and concerns are often destination-oriented regarding my wife, my kids, my work and the future I trust in the Lord’s hands, but of which I also desire a more detailed GPS.
What Jesus reminds Thomas is that it’s not just about the destination for the disciple; it’s about the Way. Jesus is enough.
I know I am to abide in Jesus. I know I am to pray continually and immerse myself in the Scripture. I know the basic disciplines of following Jesus, but I often deprioritize those disciplines in an effort to get to my desired (even godly) destination more quickly.
I want a shortcut to the destinations God has for my life. But Jesus doesn’t just provide a destination; He provides the Way.
When I am tempted to be more concerned with where Jesus is headed than where He is by the presence of His Holy Spirit, I find myself asking the question of Thomas.
Jesus, I don’t know where you are going so how can I follow the path?
I also find myself needing to remember Jesus’s words. Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Discipleship is a path, not a place. When Jesus called His disciples, He said, “Follow me,” not, “Meet me over there.”
To know Jesus is to follow Jesus and to follow Jesus is to know Him. The path is the destination. The destination is the path.
For those like me who are often anxious about what’s next, may we remember Thomas’s question and Jesus’s reply. It’s not about what’s next; it’s about what’s now. And what’s now is the opportunity to follow Jesus in present disciplines of discipleship.
“…you know the way to where I am going.’…I am the Way” (John 14:4,6).