Are you on the Journey with God, or just Peering in the Windows?

This past weekend our friends invited us to borrow an exotic car to take on a road trip through the mountains.  Matt and I are both huge car fans, so this was a dream trip.  We could not afford this car as it’s more than our first house!  But, John invited us to go and pay nothing.  As we were driving through the Great Smoky Mountains, I began thinking how this trip reminded me so much of God.

God is such a great God.  Do you realize that all other “gods” - Budda, Mohammad, Greek Gods of the past – all other gods have asked for us to do things in order to be forgiven, saved or deemed righteous.  Our God asked for nothing and He gave everything by dying on the cross for us.  God is the only God that requires only for us to accept a free gift in order to have a relationship with him.  How cool is that?

John gave us this Ferrari for the weekend.  No strings attached.  We did not pay any money, we did not sign any contracts; it was a free gift.  Not only that, but John did not say, “here is your car, now go on your way.”  No - he went on the road trip with us.  He wanted to hang out and enjoy the weekend together.  That is so like our Heavenly Father.  He wants to give us a free gift of salvation - something that we could never pay for on our own.  And then, he wants to spend time in relationship “on the road of life” with us.

On the flip side, Matt and I were so appreciative and respectful of the gift that we took careful steps to protect this gift.  Matt parked the Ferrari away from other cars that could ding our doors.  I made sure that we kept the inside of the car neat and tidy.  We treated this gift with appreciation and the respect the gift deserved.

Are you treating your life – your gift of salvation with the respect and love that God deserves?  Are you being careful not to “mess-up” this precious gift of life God has given?  I, for one, am the first to not protect my ears and eyes from sin.  I was way more careful to stay away from objects that might hurt the Ferrari than I am staying away from temptation that might hurt my soul.

At every stop we made, strangers would come over to the car and peer into the windows. They would stand back and admire this exotic car. Often, they would ask what year the car was made or us how fast we had driven. Lots of questions, lots of looking, but they never really hopped in the car for a drive. Is this you on your Christian walk? Are you really on a journey with God, or are you just checking Him out on Sundays?  I don’t know about you, but the drive does not really start until I hop in and start the engine. It’s the same with Jesus. I cannot be on the journey with Him unless I am spending time in the word, praying, and living every moment on the ride with my Heavenly Father.

Sometimes we think of God as a being up in Heaven waiting for us to mess up.  That is wrong.  God is on our side.  God is pulling for us.  God wants to have fellowship and do the journey of life together.

Guest Post by Julie's Lighter Side Columnist

Recently, a friend told me that she wished she “had it all together” like me. Then I died laughing. No really, it was probably the best compliment I’d gotten in a while, except that time my 5-year-old told me that I only had the second stinkiest feet in the family. As a modern mom, isn’t “having it all together” (or at least the appearance that we do) what we’re striving for—the ultimate goal of millennial motherhood?

Let me assure you that I absolutely do not have it together. My family’s collection of Happy Meal toys alone is proof of that. I try to be very transparent and open about my shortcomings. I don’t want anyone to feel bad if they compare themselves to me. If you must compare yourself to me, please ask and I can tell you lots of things that will make you feel like a fine, upstanding human being.

When we see someone who appears to have it all together, we envy her. We want to know how she does it, we want to be her friend, we want to be her. Of course we can consult our reasonable minds for a moment and realize that no one has it together— we just see what they show us for a short period of time. I think my friend caught me on my one good day in a decade when she made that assessment of me.

The girl at the gym who can do squat thrusts and look cute, instead of obscene. The mom at Starbucks with the perfect messy bun and the Pinterest-worthy outfit. The woman at Kroger with no GMOs, processed foods or artificially colored snacks in her buggy. The mom at the park who corrects her children calmly and kindly, never raising her voice.

This is what we are comparing ourselves to! But do you know what that is? A snapshot. One tiny bit of an otherwise hectic life. Instagram-worthy moments that make us feel less-than. How bizarre that such a short, incomplete glimpse into someone else’s life can make us feel so inadequate and defeated.

I think about this a lot, and as a Type-A list maker, I tend to make mental lists of what I’ve got under control and what I need to improve on. Sometimes I think that once I move everything over to the “Under Control” side, I’ll truly be a got-it-all-together person.

When I start trying to check off that list, that’s when God does His best work in me. Inevitably, I fail. Then I try harder, and fail harder. Because the more value I put on my own ability to take care of everything or be everything to everybody, the more He reveals my need for His strength.

James 3:16-18 says For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (NLT)

I’m not saying it’s wrong to want that perfect messy bun, but it is certainly jealousy that makes me compare my life to another’s, and selfish ambition to think that I could or should project the image of having it together. I don’t have to make perfectly balanced and healthy meals every night— God tells me to be gentle and peaceful. I don’t have to hand crochet matching turtlenecks for our family photos, I need to be merciful and sincere.

God shows me that my desire to check off the boxes that the world values is limiting me to a shallow version of what He wants for me. I don’t need to hide my shortcomings, He can use my weaknesses to show His strength.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NIV)

Calamities, ya’ll. That is my life, Every. Day. It’s like Paul was writing just for me!

God made me the kind of woman who gets frustrated trying to buckle the infant seat in the van properly. He gave me the face that shows every irritation when my kids are wild. He gave me those 3 little circus monkeys who have terribly embarrassing table manners. And He made me love gluten, soy, dairy, GMOs, MSG and red 40.

He did that so that you could look at me and think “Bless her heart, she’s a mess, but she sure does love Jesus.” And that beats having it all together any day.

Julie Holt is a wife, mother of three, hair stylist, runner, reader, writer, and is tired. Very tired. She works in Brentwood, lives in Spring Hill and can be reached at You can follow Julie on Twitter at jh_lighter_side.

Dear Friends, 
I hope you got as much from Julie's words as I did. I will be inviting other guests to join us from time to time.  See you next week when I am back from vacation!

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