The Journey, Not the Goal

Konstantinovich Aivazovsky2

If you want to see some amazing paintings of the sea, go here. Marine artist Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky creates mesmerizing waves and seascapes and has over 6,000 paintings devoted to the subject of oceans. An article in “My Modern Met,” says, “What separates Aivazovsky’s seascape paintings from others is his ability to replicate both the intensity and motion as well as the translucency and texture. His energetic waves and calm ripples are equally effective. Aivazovsky also plays with colors, simulating the effects of sunlight filtering through the waters to present an ethereal quality that imitates a sort of magical realism. There’s something absolutely stunning about the painter’s ability to skillfully emulate the emotional connection to the coastal scenes that translates centuries later.”

Speaking of water, in 2013, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida. I’m sure the waves were nothing like these paintings, but it was quite a feat, none-the-less. It was her fifth attempt and finally, at the age of 64, she achieved her life-long dream. I saw footage of her staggering to shore with her face swollen, her legs shaky and her look dazed, and I thought to myself, “Well done! What an inspiration. But now what will she do?”

I am not saying this is the case for Ms. Nyad, but occasionally you hear about people who have had a goal they have been working towards for a long time and once it is obtained, they struggle with what to do next. Sometimes they have to learn how to live differently. And then there are times when life changes (like when a pandemic comes along) and what used to be isn’t anymore, and there is a struggle to find purpose again.

Finding God’s purpose for their life is a goal many people strive for. We think God is leading us to a particular end or a desired goal and we want to make sure we don’t miss it. But in God’s view, the question of whether or not we have arrived at a particular goal isn’t all that important. Reaching a goal is merely a step along the way. God’s “goal” is the process itself, not working toward a particular finish.

Oswald Chambers writes, “God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people see as preparation, God sees as the goal itself.”

Being Human connection: It’s not that we shouldn’t set goals and strive to reach them, but it’s in the process that God shapes us, teaches us, and uses us. It’s in the here-and-now that we find God’s purpose. We tend to think that once we obtain ____________ (fill in the blank), then we’ll _______________ (fill in the blank). But be mindful that God is working in every “blank” along the way. He would like our eyes to be on him, not only on the finish. Seek him first, and whatever is “added along the way” is God’s purpose for us.

P.S. The water is turbulent but beautiful. An apt metaphor for life.

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. –Matthew 6:33

Featured art: Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, “Ship in the Stormy Sea,” 1887