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Joy in the Journey

The beauty of the sun rising over the water reflects the joy in the journey of life.
Photo Credit: William Watson

(By Angela Watson)

The sun was beginning to set behind the mountains as we stood on the beach watching while the sea turtle hatchlings were carefully lifted from the protected environment they had spent the last 45 days or so before they would make their journey to the Pacific Ocean.

After being placed in the sand, these little sea turtles orient themselves and scurry directly towards the waves crashing on the beach. Their little flippers rapidly move, leaving a trail in the sand. On that particular day, only four hatchlings were ready to be released, but the beauty was that we were better able to observe each turtle’s journey.

The first little turtle was quick; he raced as fast as his flippers would take him across the sand. With only one wave giving him a little setback, he was soon whisked away by the tide. The second little hatchling started closely behind the first, but his journey quickly became an obstacle course. Instead of being caught by the waves and carried out to sea, he kept getting pushed back by the waves as they pounded on the shore.

Despite his efforts, as the waves receded and he started to scurry towards the ocean again, a fresh wave caught him and, rather than drawing him forward, pushed him back. One wave even left him on his back, fighting to right himself again, and at this point, a spectator reached out and flipped him over.

After at least half a dozen attempts, this little hatchling finally caught his wave, and within moments, he was gone. As he disappeared from view, the voices that had been encouraging him to keep going and not give up erupted in cheers.

Finally, the last two turtles also completed their journeys, a little slower but without as many obstacles. It truly was an extraordinary experience to witness.

The words of Paul in Philippians 3 came to mind as I watched these tiny hatchlings make their way through the sand toward their new home. “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14).

As I reflected on the incredible display of God’s creation, I was reminded of how we are like these sea turtle hatchlings, heading toward eternity following the pathway God called us to. Our individual path won’t look like anyone else’s, because although we have the same Savior and are heading to the same place, we are uniquely and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14).

Paul faced much in his Christian life, and his advice to the Christians in Philippians 3 was to keep pressing on regardless of the circumstances.

There may be things from our past that we must deal with, but Paul is telling us not to let the past define or distract us but to forget what lies behind us.

Each of us will encounter setbacks and trials, and sometimes, they will knock us right on our backs. God’s Word tells us this is unavoidable, but Paul encourages us to stay focused. 

Why? Because we have a prize waiting: our future in heaven with Jesus Christ, our Lord.

How can we do it? Through the Holy Spirit. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Knowing our future is secure and that we have help along our journey allows us to better understand what James meant when he wrote: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Paul starts his letter with this declaration: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

I hope the lyrics of Mercy Me’s song “Almost Home” encourage us to keep pressing forward, relying on the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit until we reach the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Well, this road will be hard

But we win in the end

Simply because of Jesus in us

It's not if, but when

So take joy in the journey

Even when it feels long

Oh, find strength in each step

Knowing Heaven is cheering you on

We are almost home

Brother, it won't be long

Soon all your burdens will be gone

With all your strength

Sister, run wild, run free

Hold up your head, keep pressing on

We are almost home


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