“Nonsense! ” said Gregory, who was very rational when anyone else attempted paradox. “Why do all the clerks and navvies in the railway trains look so sad and tired, so very sad and tired? I will tell you. It is because they know that the train is going right. It is because they know that whatever place they have taken a ticket for that place they will reach. It is because after they have passed Sloane Square they know that the next station must be Victoria, and nothing but Victoria. Oh, their wild rapture! oh, their eyes like stars and their souls again in Eden, if the next station were unaccountably Baker Street!”
(G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday)
As I read this statement in Chesterton’s fiction, I couldn’t help but see the image through my mind’s eye, of a listless, lifeless trap that we can often fall into. Much like the operators of London’s railways in Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, many of us find ourselves in a similar circuit. Life has lost its zest, and we have lost our zeal because of the predictability of it all.
After all, doesn’t it seem, even if it’s only at certain times, or even most times, that life has always been, and always will, go on the same as it has been going. That sense of predictability can lull us into a complacent coma. We are comforted by predictability in life. That’s why we like to have our ducks in a row, and our plans made. But when things don’t go the way we had planned, or hoped, or thought, we often blame God rather than blaming the one who made the bad plans in the first place—ourselves. Can we really blame God for throwing a monkey wrench into our plans—for trying to shake us out of those complacent comas?
I believe Jesus was trying to awaken our souls from that very same stupor when he called his disciples to tread the narrow path, and to not worry about tomorrow. He was enlivening our souls to a new and higher life—a life that would take us out of the monotony and predictability of daily living. A life that is so exciting, so worth living for—that it would cause us to rejoice in persecution and reviling, lose all for his sake, and follow anywhere he leads. What would bring that kind of happiness?
The happiness comes from knowing that the journey of uncertainty—though, it is a joy of solitude, is never a lonely one. He leads us, he guides us, he shapes us, and he delights in us. We are forever happy in him because he delights so much in us.
(*On a few occasions, I have revisited an expository study of Philippians under the title of “Joy in the Journey.” However, this post is not related to those sermons.)